Arseli Dokumaci, “Activist Affordances: How Disabled People Improvise More Habitable Worlds” (Duke UP, 2023)

For people who are living with disability, including various forms of chronic diseases and chronic pain, daily tasks like lifting a glass of water or taking off clothes can be difficult if not impossible. In Activist Affordances: How Disabled People Improvise More Habitable Worlds (Duke UP, 2023), Arseli Dokumacı draws on ethnographic work with differently disabled people whose ingenuity, labor, and artfulness allow them to achieve these seemingly simple tasks. Dokumacı shows how they use improvisation to imagine and bring into being more habitable worlds through the smallest of actions and the most fleeting of movements—what she calls “activist affordances.” Even as an environment shrinks to a set of constraints rather than opportunities, the improvisatory space of performance opens up to allow disabled people to imagine that same environment otherwise. Dokumacı shows how disabled people’s activist affordances present the potential for a more liveable and accessible world for all of us.

Dr. Arseli Dokumaci, PhD is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Canada Research Chair in Critical Disability Studies and Media Technologies, and Director of the Access in the Making (AIM) Lab

A [full transcript of the interview](link) is available for accessibility purposes.

Clayton Jarrard is a Research Project Coordinator at the University of Kansas Center for Research, contributing to initiatives at the nexus of research, policy implementation, and community efforts

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