Putting Disability Studies and Pain Studies in Dialogue

A lecture by Travis Chi Wing Lau.

Watch the recording on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGWAO2DFUUg

Held on Friday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 PM ET at the Watson Institute, Brown University, Providence, RI and on Zoom.

This talk considers how long-standing Disability Studies’ critiques of medicalization and the medical model of disability, as well as theorizations of disabled ways of knowing–cripistemologies–could powerfully inform interdisciplinary pain studies. While pain studies has engaged somewhat with humanistic approaches, it has yet to engage substantively with the insights of Disability Studies and the lived experiences of disabled people. Rather than conflate disability and pain, this talk works through the tensions between these categories and their relationship to the medical industrial complex and the consequences for communities in pain in light of the opioid epidemic. Through meditations on both my scholarly work in the literary and cultural history of pain alongside my poetic practice as a crip poet, I make a case for how we might practice an anti-ableist and disability-centered approach to the study of pain. 

Image source, “A man with an excruciating headache.” Coloured etching by H. Cook, 1827, after M. Egerton., in the Wellcome Collection.