Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Intersectional Praxis and Disability in Higher Education

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Abstract:  This article explores whether intersectional praxis can be discerned in the provision of disability/accessibility resources in higher education in Sweden and the United States. Analysing interviews with administrative staff based on hypothetical scenarios (vignettes) that could qualify as situations of disability discrimination, this article identifies several situations of (missed) opportunities for intersectional praxis. It then proceeds with a discussion of participants’ conceptions of disability and organisational possibilities for collaborations with other offices at their university or college. Although opportunities for intersectional praxis are generally absent or missed in both countries, the article argues that American participants were closer to such critical praxis because they tended to consider disability in terms of barriers and as a structural issue, and advocated for the recognition of disability as diversity. By contrast, the Swedish participants seemed further away from an intersectional praxis because they tended to view disability as a difficulty that requires individualised support measures and as a situational issue regarding the learning environment. The article proposes that these differences are connected to differences regarding disability and anti‐discrimination politics in both countries. In the US, disability politics have been characterised by a civil rights and social justice approach, while in Sweden disability politics have been conceived in terms of welfare services and a relational approach to disability. This article concludes that the conception of intersectionality as a critical praxis offers an original lens to gain new insights into how disability inclusion is promoted in different contexts.

Keywords:  accommodations; anti‐discrimination; disability; diversity; equity; higher education; inclusion; intersectionality; praxis; Sweden; United States

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v11i4.7085


© Marie Sépulchre. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.