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Palgrave Macmillan

Disability Incarcerated

Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada

ISBN 9781137393234
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Paperback Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Disability Incarcerated gathers thirteen contributions from an impressive array of fields. Taken together, these essays assert that a complex understanding of disability is crucial to an understanding of incarceration, and that we must expand what has come to be called 'incarceration.' The chapters in this book examine a host of sites, such as prisons, institutions for people with developmental disabilities, psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, special education, detention centers, and group homes; explore why various sites should be understood as incarceration; and discuss the causes and effects of these sites historically and currently.

This volume includes a preface by Professor Angela Y. Davis and an afterword by Professor Robert McRuer.

Liat Ben-Moshe is Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Toledo. She holds a PhD in Sociology with concentrations in Gender Studies and Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Her recent work examines the connections between prison abolition and deinstitutionalization in the fields of intellectual disabilities and mental health in the United States.

Chris Chapman is Assistant Professor at York University's School of Social Work. He researches histories, rationales and practices of the 'helping professions' by mobilizing perspectives of those who have been subjected to them, drawing on Disability Studies, Critical Race Theory, Anti-colonial Studies, Prison Abolitionist, Queer, and Feminist critiques of social services.

Allison C. Carey is Associate Professor of Sociology at Shippensburg University. Her 2009 book, On the Margins of Citizenship: Intellectual Disability and Civil Rights in 20th Century America (Temple University Press), was awarded the 2010 Scholarly Achievement Award from the North Central Sociological Association. She is also co-editor of Disability and Community (2011, Emerald).

Foreword; Angela Y. Davis
Preface: An Overview of Disability Incarcerated; Allison Carey, Liat Ben-Moshe, & Chris Chapman


1. Reconsidering Confinement: Interlocking Locations and Logics of Incarceration; Chris Chapman, Allison C. Carey, & Liat Ben-Moshe
2. Five Centuries' Material Reforms and Ethical Reformulations of Social Elimination; Chris Chapman
3. Creating the Back Ward: The Triumph of Custodialism and the Uses of Therapeutic Failure in Nineteenth Century Idiot Asylums; Phil Ferguson
4. Eugenics Incarceration and Expulsion: Daniel G. and Andrew T.'s Deportation from 1928 Toronto, Canada; Geoffrey Reaume
5. Crippin' Jim Crow: Disability and the School-to-Prison Pipeline; Nirmala Erevelles
6. Walking the Line Between the Past and the Future: Parents' Resistance and Commitment to Institutionalization; Allison C. Carey & Lucy Gu
7. Remembering Institutional Erasures: The meaning of histories of disability incarceration in Ontario; Jihan Abbas & Jijian Voronka


8. The New Asylums: Madness & Mass Incarceration in the Neoliberal Era; Michael Rembis
9. It Can't be Fixed Because It's Not Broken: Racism and Disability in the Prison Industrial Complex; Syrus Ware, Joan Ruzsa & Giselle Dias
10. Chemical Constraint: Experiences of Psychiatric Coercion, Restraint, and Detention as Carceratory Techniques; Erick Fabris & Katie Aubrecht
11. Racing Madness: The Terrorizing Madness of the Post-9/11 Terrorist Body; Shaista Patel
12. Refugee Camps, Asylum Detention, and the Geopolitics of Transnational Mobility: Disability and its Intersections with Humanitarian Confinement; Mansha Mirza
13. Self-Advocacy: The Emancipation Movement Led by People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Mark Friedman & Ruthie-Marie Beckwith
14. Alternatives to (Disability) Incarceration; Liat Ben-Moshe

Afterword; Robert McRuer

Jihan Abbas, Carleton University, USA
Katie Aubrecht, Saint Mary's University and St. Francis Xavier University, Canada
Ruthie-Marie Beckwith, USA
Angela Y. Davis, USA
Giselle Dias, Canada
Nirmala Erevelles, University of Alabama, USA
Erick Fabris, Ryerson University, Canada
Philip M. Ferguson, Chapman University, USA
Mark Friedman, USA
Lucy Ling Gu, Shippensburg University, USA
Robert McRuer, George Washington University, USA
Mansha Mirza, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
Shaista Patel, University of Toronto, Canada
Geoffrey Reaume, York University, Canada
Michael Rembis, University at Buffalo, USA
Joan Ruzsa, Canada
Jijian Voronka, University of Toronto, Canada
Syrus Marcus Ware, University of Toronto, Canada


"The essays in Disability Incarcerated demonstrate that racialized and disabled bodies are now, and historically have been, policed in various and complex ways, causing a disproportionate number of people with disabilities to be confined in carceral spaces, whether in institutions or in prisons. The collection compellingly argues for a deeper examination of the interlocking oppressions that have caused othered bodies—specifically, disabled, working-class, minority, immigrant, terrorist, and displaced bodies—to be watched, controlled, and contained by the prison-industrial complex. . . Disability Incarcerated offers readers a powerful critique of neoliberalism and its exploitation of non-normative bodies, and it certainly has primed the path for future work that bridges critical prison studies and critical disability studies." - Disability Studies Quarterly
"Disability Incarcerated constitutes a major contribution to critical disability and penal studies, joining the two as no other book does . . . Only now and then does a work of scholarship so ground-breaking, so well theorized, and so daring appear on the scene. And seldom do we come across an anthology destined to become a classic." - Canadian Journal of Disability Studies
"Provocative, original, and timely, this collection reveals inextricable links between disability and incarceration. Each study of confinement places disability in sustained dialogue with broader forces and identities, including race, gender, sexuality and class. Accessible prose and collaborative projects attest to the transformative power of activist scholarship." - Susan Burch, Associate Professor of American Studies and former director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, Middlebury College, USA
"Disability Incarcerated challenges both scholarship and activism around the prison industrial complex by demonstrating how disability is central to systems of incarceration. It further shows how the build-up of the prison nation is not just around policing race and gender, but simultaneously policing disability. This book thus highlights how race, colonialism, and gender operate through disability. An amazing collection.' - Andrea Smith, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of California, Riverside, USA
"There is admirable depth to each chapter… While the interconnection between incarceration and disability overall is called into question, readers are forced to pause for thought and reconsider their understanding of how social constructs and perceptions can influence persons in prison and persons with disability" – Rose Ricciardelli, British Journal of Criminology 55(3)
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