Call for submissions to a special edition of the Caribbean Review in Gender Studies on the topics of Disability, Mental Health and Disablement.
My legs were at a 45 degree angle each. I was in a wheelchair for a while after I had corrective surgery to fix it. This is basically the end result… But it’s fine. It’s cute now. Guys fantasize about it now, because I “walk wine” and girls try to walk like me… Basically, I mean my legs are double jointed. And you can put them in different positions. I’m saying, ‘My vagina is made different, and it will make you feel different, and it will make you feel like it’s not one, but actually two vaginas.’
– Tifa, Jamaican Dancehall Artiste [Interview with thefader.com]
In the preamble of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), it is recognized that “disability” is a temporally and spatially evolving concept. Disability, under the UN Convention, is a consequence of “the interaction between persons with impairments (physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments) and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” This social model of understanding disability emphasizes that social barriers are disabling, not the impairment itself. Mental health, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” These definitions offer points of departure that can allow us to discuss and develop deeper understandings of how conceptions of disability, mental health, mental illness, and madness affects us all – albeit in differing ways – and the ways in which they are also integrally linked to our identities, broader communities, social environments, social determinants, and bodily factors. Caribbean women, like Tifa, provide narratives that call us to examine these multifaceted entanglements, with particular emphasis on gender, sex, and sexuality in the region.
Feminist, post-colonial, and transnational scholarship and research on disability and mental health have been successful in expanding our understandings and theorizations through and beyond the social model lens (Erevelles, 2011; Gorman, 2010; Parekh, 2007; Soldatic and Grech, 2014; Edge, 2008; Rowley, 2003, hooks, 1994; Jackson and Naidoo, 2012). In Caribbean Diasporic spaces, Black Feminist Theory has been used to illuminate the voices and knowledge of Caribbean women to explore their experiences of depression, techniques for mental health management, and coping strategies (Jackson and Naidoo, 2012). Research of this kind facilitates an analysis of how women conceptualize and negotiate their intersectional identities and mental health and disability within oppressive environments. Caribbean feminisms, as a project and conceptual paradigm, pushes to include diverse dimensions of identity; however, discussions of disability, mental health, and disablement are conspicuously absent. This leads to a silencing of critical interventions, which further normalizes ideals about gender, sex, and sexuality in the Caribbean and its Diasporas. When embodied experiences of gender, sex, and sexuality are rendered outside of Caribbean notions of “normal” and normalcy, the consequences of this apathy and disengagement are felt in spaces of disablement where “inequality begets inequality, spawning gradual and perpetual debilitating outcomes that influence the social, political, and economic wellbeing of people” (Persaud, 2014).
Research on disability and mental health, through a framework that prioritizes the examination of sex, gender, and sexuality in the Caribbean and its Diasporas, is necessary to draw attention to the lived experiences of people with disabilities and mental health challenges (Chouinard, 2014; Gayle-Geddes, 2015; Baird et al., 2012; Jackson-Best, forthcoming). To address this need and to nurture this emergent field, we are soliciting papers, critical essays, creative works, interviews, reviews, and/or multimedia pieces that engage with scholarship and theorizations around disability, mental health, and disablement. Contributions can explore a wide range of themes including:
- Women and men’s experiences with disability, mental health/wellness, and madness
- Gender nonconforming peoples’ experiences with disability, mental health/wellness, and madness
- Caribbean definitions and theorizations of disability, disablement, mental health/wellness, and madness
- Depression and anxiety
- Mental health assessment, diagnosis, and diagnostic tools
- Mad studies and the Caribbean
- Disability, mental health, the law, and human rights
- Disability and mad pride/justice
- Disability and mental healthcare services
- Mental health and/or social exclusion and stigma
- Academia and mental health
- Suicide and self-harm
- Maternal mental health
- Adolescent; LGBTQ mental health
- Analysis of Caribbean literary works examining disability, mental health, and madness
- Research, strategies, and techniques around wellness
- Caribbean understandings of able-bodiedness and able-mindedness
- Cultural representations of disability and mental health, including performative works
- Questions of citizenship and belonging in relation to able-bodiedness and able-mindedness
- Historicizing disability, mental health, and madness with emphasis on colonialism and the periods of slavery and indentureship
- Reclamation – can we reclaim language considered ableist in Caribbean vernaculars?
- Activism, resistance, and community mobilization around disability, mental health, and mental wellness
- Intimacy, love, sex, and desire
Co-Editors: Savitri Persaud and Dr. Fatimah Jackson-Best
September 30, 2016
January 6, 2017