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UH Critical Disability Studies Initiative

Mission Statement

The UH Critical Disability Studies Initiative (CDSI) aims to bring the critical study of disability to a wider audience and through collaboration between students, scholars and community members in Houston.

Disability studies is an interdisciplinary field that considers how disability — as it intersects with other aspects of embodiment, identity and power like race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, age and religion — is regarded and experienced, both past and present.

As a critical initiative, our interest in disability is not medically focused or charity-based. Instead, we examine ableism as a system of oppression and disability as an identity category.

This initiative aims to foster engagement in critical disability studies, disability activism and social change on the UH campus and in the wider community. To this end, CDSI creates, supports and promotes opportunities to:

- Learn about disability and critical disability studies
- Get involved in or initiate a disability-focused academic or advocacy project
- Meet others involved in disability scholarship and activism
- Reduce disability-related stigma
- Improve access and accessibility awareness

A group of scholars from the UH Critical Disability Studies Initiative
Image: A group of scholars gathered around a table to discuss Subini Ancy Annamma’s "The Pedagogy of Pathologization."


CDSI was established in 2018 by Jess Wagonner, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin–Madison) and Rachel Afi Quinn, Ph.D. (WGSS/CCS).

In 2018–19, CDSI held speaking events and workshops by scholars in disability studies: Julie A. Minich, Kim Parker and Jess Waggoner. CDSI also held a monthly reading and discussion group in disability studies. Topics included disability and critical race and ethnicity studies, disability and queer studies, disability rights and citizenship, and disability pedagogy.

In 2019–20, CDSI held speaking events and workshops by scholars in disability studies: Eunjung Kim and Subini Annamma.

In 2020–21, CDSI continued activities during the pandemic under the leadership of Sonny Nordmarken, Ph.D. and Professor Quinn.


Please email Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda ("AJP" - he/they) at if you would like to be added to our email list to receive information regarding upcoming CDSI meetings and events or if you have any access needs for attending meetings.