18) Performing Disability / Enabling Performance

Arseli Dokumacı and Kim Sawchuk

Description/Rationale of Issues to be Addressed
What are the intersections between disability and eX-centricity? How could disability unsettle the boundaries around what counts as center and its eX-tremities? How does a disability perspective disrupt common codes; dis-arrange and rearrange the blueprints of the possible? How might a performance studies perspective energize and re-animate tired debates, such as the impairment and disability divide? What new forms of collectives and collaborations can be formed around disability? How might eX-centricity of disability challenge aesthetic practice and open up new possibilities for activism?

Touching upon themes common to both performance and disability studies, this work group focuses on the interface of performance and disability to produce new eX-centricities. We invite artists, academics, theorists and activists to explore how the two paradigms might challenge and productively inform each other.

Description/Rationale of Format
The work group accepts papers, performances, interventions, movement practices, experiments, and/or multi-media works. Session presentations and discussions will be in the form of a dialogue rather than standard conference format. The final session of the group will be a think-tank practice where participants will collaboratively discuss the issues that have emerged out of previous sessions.    

Application Materials
An abstract of the applicant’s proposed contribution to the work group (300 words max). Possible contributions include but are not limited to:

  • Paper presentations
  • Performances  
  • Interventions
  • Movement practices
  • Multi-media works

Languages Spoken/Understood by the Conveners
English, French   

Convener Biographies
Arseli Dokumacı is a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University’s Social Studies of Medicine Department and a research associate for the Canadian Consortium for Performance and Politics in the Americas. She received her PhD in Performance Studies from Aberystwyth University and completed postdoctoral work at Concordia University’s Mobile Media Lab, where she still works as an associate. Arseli is a video-maker and a media practitioner whose research explores the intersections of performance and disability from a variety of genres and perspectives, including visual ethnography. She is the Chair of Constituency Groups and a board member at Performance Studies international and a founding member of the Concordia Disability Studies Working Group. Personal website:

Kim Sawchuk is a co-founder of the “m.i.a/montreal in/accessible” collective, a group of academics, artists and activists using media technologies and performative methodologies to instigate awareness of the many permutations of able-ism. She is a co-founder of the Concordia Disability Studies Working Group and was a co-convenor of the 2015 Hemi Encuentro work group on performance and disability with Arseli Dokumacı. A Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, she holds a Concordia University Research Chair in Mobile Media Studies and is the author and co-editor of numerous articles and books on politics and embodiment.