National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Professor Andrew Jakubowicz
Professor of Sociology, University of Technology, Sydney\

Ms Helen Meekosha
Senior Lecturer, University of NSW

"Silence is...": Disability Studies Dis/engages with Multicultural Studies

Too often diversity is seen to encompass culture - and gender and sexuality - but leaves out consideration of different embodiments. Yet disability studies with its direct challenge to theories of alterity, subaltern status and ideologies of domination, opens up ways of examining cultural diversity that cannot otherwise be approached. This paper examines disability studies as a position from which multicultural studies can be interrogated, and through which critical questions about social hierarchies can be confronted. Given that national population policies and world views underpin both multicultural and disability practices, a shared analysis seems overdue.

The main focus of the paper will address the politics of recognition, the nature of discourses of normalcy, the diffuse articulation of citizenship and the strategies adopted by the state to control the "quality" of its population. Particular attention will be given to the relevance of social movements to the development of a theoretical symbiosis, and the similar (though also quite specific) challenges facing both the ethnic and disability movements in Australia in the struggle for human rights.

Andrew Jakubowicz is professor of sociology at UTS, and author of articles on multiculturalism. He is executive producer of the CDROM project "Making Multicultural Australia: a multimedia documentary".

Helen Meekosha is convenor of the Social Relations of Disability Research Network and a researcher in disability, feminism and representation. The authors were the joint recipients of a large ARC on Disability, Representation and Social Participation.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops