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Insurrection and Resistance: exploring the activist 'self' in self- advocacy by people with intellectual disability

Leanne Dowse, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


This paper reports on a study of activist practice by people with intellectual disability in self-advocacy organisations in Australia and Britain. It details an innovative collaborative and critically reflective action research methodology designed to give rise to co-produced insights into the ways that self-advocates interpret and confront the complexities in which their activist practices are embedded. Its starting point is the notion of self-advocacy as a dynamic process connected to 'self-advocate as disability identity' and 'self-advocacy as disability culture'. The analysis presented captures some of the subjectivities that people with intellectual disability associate with this identity and culture through an exploration of the ways they 'talk' and 'feel' their lives. It explores activist practice by people with intellectual disability through the characteristic ways that self-advocates create their own forms of knowledge and shape themselves as subjects through talk and action. These in turn coalesce to give shape and meaning to the culture of self-advocacy.

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