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Disability scholars look at 'new paradigm,' disability rights law
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Mar. 12, 2002 -- Tomorrow at UC/Berkeley, University of Illinois/Chicago disability studies scholar Lennard J. Davis delivers a lecture on "The End of Identity Politics and the Beginnings of 'Dismodernism': Disability as the New Paradigm for the 21st Century." On Thursday and Friday (3/14, 3/15/2002), UC/Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law is putting on a symposium "The Changing Face of Disability Law in the New Millennium." Both events point to growing disability scholarship and a concern over public understanding of disability rights.

The seeming lack of interest by non-disabled people in the Supreme Court's recent forays against the ADA worries a growing number of disability activists and scholars. In a Nov. 12 Chicago Tribune "Perspective" column, Davis called this lack of interest "part of a larger picture. We have created a firewall between them and us. While many white people have embraced the cause of people of color, and while many straight people have taken up the cause of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, few have taken up the cause of people with disabilities.

"Perhaps the reasons for this are telling," he continues. "No whites will become black; few straights will become gay; but every person can become disabled. All it takes is the swerve of a car, the impact of a football tackle or the tick of the clock to make this transformation." (Read the article at

In his lecture tomorrow, Davis will say that disability will "ultimately provide us with a new model of personhood appropriate to a post-postmodern era." Davis, professor and head of the English Department in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is also professor in the disability studies department (Dept. of Disability & Human Development) at UIC (Read more about Davis at its website at -- for more about the Department's research, go to

Information on "The Changing Face of Disability Law in the New Millennium" symposium is available at

More about the "new paradigm" of disability can be found at the Accessible Society website at -- there's also information and a good bibliography at The National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research's information about the "new paradigm" is online at

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