On the Road: Prof. Robert McRuer in Vienna

This just in from Prof. Robert McRuer, who just returned from the University of Vienna, where he presented his lecture “Defections: Globalizing Queerness and Disability” as part of a daylong event titled “Barriere-frei?! Perspektiven der Disability und Gender/Queer Studies auf die Hochschullandschaft” [Barrier-free?! Perspectives on Disability and Gender/Queer Studies in Higher Education].  
Prof. Robert McRuer being interviewed on Freak Radio in Vienna

“Two other lecturers were featured at this event: Anne Waldschmidt, of the University of Cologne, who is the first (and still the only) professor appointed to teach disability studies in Germany; and Heike Raab, of the University of Innsbruck, one of the only professors of disability studies in Austria.  The event was sponsored by the Gender Studies Program and the Center for Teaching and Learning, and was attended by faculty and students in those programs, as well as by a wide range of community members and disability activists from Vienna. 

The conversation over the course of the day touched upon representations of sexuality and disability in contemporary film, neoliberal containments and redeployments of contemporary movements for disability and queer liberation, the crises facing higher education in Europe and globally and its impact both on the development of disability studies transnationally and on the material conditions of disabled students and faculty, and visions for the future of this interdisciplinary field. 

The possibilities and dangers of translation were also very much under discussion, as “disability studies” itself tends to travel as an English phrase through the German-speaking world, marking the transnational import of this emergent field but also reproducing the dominance of English-language work in it (although this event was largely in German, with real-time translation whispered into my ear!). 

The next day, I was interviewed by Freak Radio, a collaborative mixed-ability radio collective that has been operating in Vienna for more than a decade.  Freak Radio asked me to introduce disability studies and crip theory for listeners, and to expand on some of the themes that had been discussed the previous day.

You can follow Freak Radio on Twitter. Look for Prof. McRuer’s interview to be posted soon!

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