(Im)Paired Resistance and (Dis)Abling Oppressive Systems Theory: The clash of historical materialist thought with micro-level forms of resistance
By, Zach Richter
What might be the differences between embodied praxis and historical materialist systemic analysis? This presentation seeks to assist in drawing a clear distinction between micro-political embodied forms of resistance and analysis which understands agency as a product of a series of material industries and co-dependent oppressive discourses. What occurs when analyses do not leave space for the agency and voice of anomalous embodiments? In such moments, we see the repetition of the expert society that critical disability and animal studies critics recognize as being a key force in devaluing nonhuman and disabled bodies. Instead of engaging in another sweeping institutional analysis, this essay will outline the importance of day-to-day forms of resistance and the counter-productive nature of utopian activist expectations. Furthermore, as part of the goals of disability and animal liberation, one must recognize that few actual people with disabilities have the energy to accomplish some of the bolder goals of anarchist and Marxian rebel groups. Access demands that we conceive of revolutionary methods that can be used by individuals who face great impairment and less energy than able-bodied activists and scholars. How can people with disabilities be included in a wider range of environmentalist, total liberationist and animal rights activist measures? The interrogation of such questions requires more than conceiving of eco and disability work in broad theoretical overtones, but adapting this work to be applicable to a wider range of activist circumstances. As part of such interrogation, this essay will survey a wide range of theoretical work that discusses micro-level politics and how resistance can seep through the cracks of institutions of ontological and epistemic production without requiring impossibly inaccessible forms of energy. As part of this argument, it is assumed that impairment sometimes means lessened capacity to engage in forms of activism that fail to take note of alternative modes of capacity.
Zach Richter is currently finishing his last year as an undergraduate at Western Connecticut State University and will be graduating with a BA in Literature and a minor in Sociology. Zach has been involved in disability justice activism for nearly half a year, working with groups such Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Squag.com. Zach has also recently founded an activist group called the Autism Spectrum Art Association and runs a website called Autisticulture.org that publishes autistic creative works and critical essays on those works on a monthly basis. Zach currently blogs for Squag about Autistic issues and maintains a personal blog for discussions of Autistic culture and perceptions. Additionally, Zach is captain of the Roger Sherman Debate Society and is a powerful advocate for the use of critical and activist argumentation in debate. Zach resides in Danbury, Connecticut but aims to build an academic career and therefore to journey further.