Accepted Paper:

Weathering powers, weathered bodies: an examination of disability and 'ecological ableism' in the era of climate change  
Zsuzsanna Ihar (University of Sydney)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on emergency legislature and existing disaster-preparedness frameworks, this paper seeks to trace ecological ableism in the context of the Anthropocene; from the suspension of disabled rights, to the mobilisation (and criminalisation) of self-neglect in instances of refusal and resistance.

Paper long abstract:

From the simple jagged curb to the eventual waist-deep floodwaters in care homes, and ramp-less emergency halls, it becomes evident that the slow and gradual accumulation of inaccessibility can lead to ecologies of injury and harm. These are sites where histories of inadequate funding, environmental ableism, and curative violence all merge with the climactic and the meteorological. Taking Astrida Neimanis' weathering (which posits the body as a maker and sensor of climate change) as its starting point, and building on Rob Nixon's conceptualisation of slow violence, this paper hopes to examine the manner in which climate change invokes a potential space where the very materiality, or materially-assured realm, of rights, agency, and capacity to assert can be denied, withheld, or otherwise destroyed. Honing in on the invocation of the Baker Act during Hurricane Irma, which facilitated the involuntary detainment of non-compliant disabled and mentally ill individuals, it will be argued that emergency-based legislative action morphed refusal into a form of self neglect, effectively invalidating non-normative wilfulness and reviving a reoccurring societal notion that disabled individuals hold an apparent deathwish. The paper will also consider existing policy frameworks within Australia (specifically the Disability Inclusive Disaster Preparedness in NSW), foregrounding the systemic alignment between discourses of preparedness, as well as proactivity, and ableist self-responsibilisation. Finally, the emergence of 'ecological ableism' will be carefully traced, highlighting the construction of subjects deemed to be non-productive and resistant, as both disposable and ungrievable; reflecting the wider assemblage of the contemporary positive eugenics movement.

Panel P20
Gradated citizenship, degraded humanity and the cultural specificity of rights practice