September 03, 2013

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By Kathryn Kopchik

Sami SchalkLEWISBURG, Pa. — Sami Schalk will give the talk, "Blackness and Disability: From Slavery to a Not-so-Distant Future," Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is presented as the 27th Annual Black Experiences Lecture.

It is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender (CSREG) and the Department of Women's and Gender Studies.

"To date, the fields of disability studies, Black Diaspora studies, and critical race studies have engaged little in intellectual exchange," said Susan Reed, women's and gender studies and anthropology professor and CSREG director. 

"While disability studies scholars have noted the lack of discussions of race within the field and have begun to engage more with blackness, Black Diaspora and critical race scholars have shown little interest in disability as social construct.

"Schalk will introduce the audience to disability studies and explain why the field is so important for those studying the black experience in America. From the ways in which disability was used to justify slavery to the ways in which black people continue to be more prone to disability through violence, poverty, and lack of access to health care, disability studies can provide a vital framework to help us study the experience of black Americans in the past, present and future," she said.

Schalk is a doctoral candidate in gender studies at Indiana University, where her research focuses on the representation of disability in black women's fiction. Her academic work has been published in the Disability Studies Quarterly and the Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology. She also is a member of the board of directors of the Society for Disability Studies and recipient of an American Association of University Women (AAUW) dissertation fellowship. 

A poet and a Cave Canem fellow, she is the program coordinator for Young Women Writing for (a) Change of Bloomington. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame.

While at Bucknell, Schalk will participate in a faculty colloquium lunch, where she will discuss her article, "Coming to Claim Crip: Disidentification with/in Disability Studies."