Share + 
Karen Nakamura on the left and Sunaura Taylor on the right

Karen Nakamura and Sunaura Taylor: Thinking Through CripStudies 2.0 - Beyond the Corporeal, Disabled Body

Mon Sep 27, 2021 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Free and open to the public; online only. Please register at

In this two-speaker symposium that explores the next evolution of Disability Studies, Professor Sunaura Taylor (ESPM) leads by conceptualizing disability as a central force that shapes human relationships to the more-than-human world through the  lens of a forty-year-old Superfund waste site in Tucson, Arizona. The talk asks us to understand ecosystem impairment not as merely metaphorical, but as a form of disability. Taylor frames impaired ecosystems as parts of larger networks of disabled ecologies, or the material and cultural ways disability is manifested among human and nonhuman entities. Taylor suggests that disability theory, with its deep engagement with concepts such as loss, limitation, interdependence, and adaptation, might offer key insights into how to live with impaired landscapes and build accessible futures. The next speaker, Professor Karen Nakamura (Anthropology) explores disability and its relationship to Artificial Intelligence through two lenses. The first is contemporary - the current biases against disabled people in AI/ML systems that render them as non-human by our robot overlords; and secondarily, the perception of AI/ML systems as fundamentally disabled themselves.  Together these two talks explore how Critical Disability Studies slash Crip Studies has moved beyond the corporeal body of the disabled person and its new potentialities.

Karen Nakamura is a cultural and visual anthropologist at the University of California Berkeley. Her first book was titled Deaf in Japan: Signing and the Politics of Identity (2006). Her next project resulted in two ethnographic films and a monograph titled, A Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan (2014). While finishing a book on the intersections of transsexuality and disability politics in postwar Japan, Nakamura is currently collaborating on research involving the impact of artificial intelligence / machine learning (AI/ML) on disability communities.

Sunaura Taylor is an artist and writer. She is author of Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation (The New Press, 2017), which received the 2018 American Book Award. She is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Society and Environment, in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley.