Leak Everywhere : A Critical Disability Analysis of the Conceptualizations of Trauma


  • Patricia Ki York University


This paper will examine how various conceptualizations of trauma are produced through specific social, historical, and political contexts, and the effects of such conceptualizations in regards to race, gender, disability, and capitalist relations of power. I will first describe the theoretical orientation of this analysis in critical theory and critical disability studies. Following Lawrence and Dua (2005), who assert that “ongoing colonization and decolonization struggles must be foundational in our understanding of racism, racial subjectivities, and antiracism” (p. 131), I begin my discussion of trauma through an analysis of how the discourse of trauma as well as healing have enabled tactics of nation-building in Canada and sustained ongoing violence against and control over Indigenous, racialized, and gendered bodies. Through a review of critical feminist and disability theorizations on reason and emotions, I then examine the historical development of trauma as a psycho-medical concept and its relationships with psychiatric categorization and knowledge. Finally, I will address the tension between the politicization of trauma and corporeal realities of distress and pain, and propose that enacting the former may open up more possibilities to care for the latter by resisting conditions that give rise to distress in the first place.       

Author Biography

Patricia Ki, York University

Doctoral student in Critical Disability Studies, York University.


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