Critical Conversations


The Critical Conversations series from the Centre for Global Disability Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) brings together scholars, activists, and researchers to discuss timely issues that impact global disability justice. The Critical Conversations Series seeks to uphold the Centre for Global Disability Studies values of promoting accessibility in academic conversations, building interdisciplinary community, and supporting anti-ableist scholarship and activism that furthers anti-colonial and transnational perspectives.  


At the Centre for Global Disability Studies, we host events called “Critical Conversations”.  During these events,  community members, activists, and scholars from around the world share their opinions. They talk about topics that impact the lives of disabled people. We try to make sure our events are accessible and include everyone. Our Critical Conversations Series is to help stop ableism and to build equality. We want to make things more fair for disabled people everywhere. 

Past Events


This year’s Critical Conversations series highlights the research expertise of advanced graduate students who have contributed significantly to CGDS through curated roundtable events featuring our 2022 graduate student RA Fellows in conversation with invited speakers.

The 2022 Critical Conversations series will take place virtually on a Zoom webinar platform. These are live events and will not be recorded.

Imagining and Enacting Transnational Disability Studies 
Date: May 25th 10:00-11:30 am (Toronto/Eastern Standard time)

Panelists: Efrat Gold, Hemachandran Kara, Sona Kazemi, Nicole Schott,  
Moderator: Efrat Gold
Host: Cassandra Hartblay, Director, CGDS

What is transnational disability studies and what are the foundations needed to foster its growth? This discussion will focus on building bridges between disability studies and the global, highlighting the concepts of solidarity, multilingualism, the politics of intervention, and cultural relativism. Speakers will discuss their own efforts and projects that bring together disability studies in transnational contexts, highlighting the tensions, possibilities, and foundations of solidarity that arise through working across difference. This includes a discussion with the editors of the multilingual global section of the Review of Disability Studies journal; a research team developing a transnational multilingual archive of disability; and the role of the arts in facilitating difficult conversations. How can we begin to have difficult conversations while making space for the tensions necessary in building towards a transnational disability studies rooted in difference and solidarity? How can we push towards more careful and critical conceptualizations of the particular and the universal? How can the messy territory of developing a transnational disability studies shape the work, teaching, and allyship of disability studies scholars in the global north? Through a discussion of these topics using concrete examples, this panel invites a deep grappling with the foundations and implications of building towards global solidarity. 

Disability, Policing, and the Question of the Human
June 1st, 12:00-1:30pm (Toronto/Eastern Standard time)

Panelists: Idil Abdillahi, Elaine Cagulada, Liat Ben-Moshe, Talila (TL) Lewis
Moderator: Celeste Pang, CGDS Graduate Alumni member
Host: Cassandra Hartblay, Director, CGDS

This panel conversation will act as an introduction of sorts to abolition, decarceration, and to how conceptions of the human are wrapped up in policing disabled lives. The focus of the conversation will be on how various institutions attempt to police disability, that is by managing, correcting, regulating, and containing disabled people/bodyminds. Guiding this panel is the question, how are disability and ableism related to policing? The conversation will begin with discussing how the question of human must necessarily not appear as a question, but as something already known and determined within carceral institutions. By tracing stories of disabled lives criminalized across time and space, we will move from revealing the concept of ‘normal’ as central to institutionalization, incarceration, and policing to then asking, “How is disability studies, and its reckoning with old and new stories of disability, pivotal to the project of abolition? How do you understand abolition as necessary to pursuing disability justice?”