For the final contribution to our symposium on Marta Russell, Beatrice Adler-Bolton interviews Liat Ben-Moshe and Dean Spade about the connections between their work and Russell’s political economic analysis of disability and law. They outline how Russell’s work fits within Critical Disability and Legal Studies and explore what her critiques have to offer current movements for liberation and economic justice.
In the escalating wave of anti-trans legislation and administrative violence sweeping the United States over the past several years, the credo on the left has often been that political violence against trans people is mere pretense: a right wing culture war meant to distract from issues more properly political-economic, or a cynical ploy to motivate a conservative voting base. This superficial reading is as naïve as it is dismissive of trans people’s material circumstances. What we need, instead, is a materialist critique that identifies state transphobia as dedicated to the broader neoliberal goal of dismantling public goods and modes of care in the name of cost reduction.
The concept of reasonable accommodations at the heart of the ADA severely undercuts the efficacy of the law. Employers, public entities, and private businesses are allowed to ignore the inaccessible nature of their programs or activities until an individual with a disability seeks (or begs) for access. This reactive, individualized model does little to prevent mass-produced inaccessibility.
In her earlier work, Marta Russell called readers attention to the economy as a factor producing disablement and argued that we needed to re-embed the market in society, to tame businesses’ need to profit via the social policies of an interventionist state. By the end of her career, however, Russell had gone further, focusing on capitalism itself. Her solution expressed not a Polanyian ideal of a somewhat more egalitarian capitalism, but a Marxist aspiration to a vastly better and more egalitarian society, achievable only by ending capitalism through collective action.
When most people consider the crisis of American infrastructure, they imagine crumbling roads and bridges, decrepit schools and hospitals, or dysfunctional railways and power grids. This post calls attention to a different, often overlooked component of American infrastructure — public restrooms. Specifically, it argues for a constitutional right to public restroom access, grounded in state constitutional provisions dedicated to public health.
The late Marta Russell is not a well-known figure among legal scholars and practitioners. She should be. Running throughout her writings is a powerful thesis: in many respects, law works to enable profit-seeking, and disability, as a concept, is crucial to that work.
The modern disability rights movement has been primarily oriented around seeking labor inclusion through the expansion of civil rights statutes. Despite this, few disability theorists have approached the study of disability from an explicitly political economic perspective. Marta Russell, the author of several groundbreaking but lesser-known works on disability and capitalism, is one of the rare exceptions. This symposium celebrates her work and encourages the rediscovery of the political economy of disability.
In response to the likely fall of Roe, commentators have suggested that tribal lands might serve as safe harbors for abortion in conservative states. While tribes ought to possess the territorial authority to regulate reproductive healthcare as they see fit, this proposal overlooks important legal, financial, political, and ethical considerations that make the prospect of such safe harbors unlikely.
Creative and strategic militancies interrupt the normal functioning of society, shift the terms of debate in public discourse, and expand the definition of the common good. Never has this been more evident than when the Young Lords barricaded themselves inside The First Spanish United Methodist Church in East Harlem.
By inviting their members to learn bureaucracies and hold them accountable, the Gray Panthers empowered elderly people to see themselves as experts capable of disentangling convoluted bureaucracies and reshaping them to better address local needs.
By organizing and running free health centers, the Black Panthers not only delivered much needed social provisions. They also empowered participants to envision and pragmatically move toward new political horizons.
In the second part of their conversation on LPE & disability, Rabia Belt, Doron Dorfman, Jasmine Harris, Jamelia Morgan, and Karen Tani discuss what LPE could gain from paying greater attention to disability, and where scholars interested in the nexus of disability and LPE should turn for additional resources.
In part one of their conversation on LPE & disability, Rabia Belt, Doron Dorfman, Jasmine Harris, Jamelia Morgan, and Karen Tani discuss why disability has not been a more prominent theme in the LPE movement.
The pernicious effects of the divided welfare state are well known. Yet its darkest legacy may be how private health care benefits transmuted ill and aging bodies into rich and predictable streams of revenue.
A system of employer-based health benefits created not only a fragmented health care financing structure but also an extremely powerful and consolidated industry that now resists changes to that structure.