Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Un/Safe Disclosures

Scenes of Disability and Trauma

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2016), 10, (1), 1–20.

Abstract

The article begins with a discussion of how debates over “trigger warnings” require a re-evaluation of the place of trauma in disability studies, arguing that our failure to engage the traumatic effects of disability constricts our work. Next, the article examines three scenes of disability disclosure that are entangled with questions of tragedy and trauma. These were settings that presumed one kind of disclosure but compelled another and, as a result, competing notions of safety and accessibility bumped up against one another. The first scene, a BDSM workshop, raises questions about which traumas are recognizable in different settings, while the second, the Society for Disability Studies annual conference, challenges assumptions about the very possibility of “safe” spaces. The article moves to a third scene, the disability studies classroom, in order to complicate the intertwinings of disability disclosure, trauma, and their effects. Throughout, there is an argument for the necessity of disability theories of trauma, mourning, and loss; trigger warnings are one entry point for developing such theories.

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Kafer, Alison