Review of Disability Studies (RDS)  is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary, international journal published by the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. The open access journal contains research articles, essays, creative works and multimedia relating to the culture of disability and people with disabilities. 


Call For Papers:  RDS Special Issue: Conversations with/across the Global South: Towards Decolonial Disability Futurities


We are pleased to announce a Special Issue: Conversations with/across the Global South: Towards Decolonial Disability Futurities with guest editors Drs. Xuan Thuy Nguyen, Carleton University; Alexis Padilla, Visiting Professor, University of Missouri St. Louis; and Shilpaa Anand, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. We are soliciting papers of approximately 6000 words in length. The deadline for submission is August 31st, 2023. Papers should be submitted to the RDS online submission system at .  

“We need to revisit the stories we tell ourselves - about how we got here - and see something different, see something that allows us to become relatives again.” 

                                                            (Prawec, 2022, p. 17)


Stories about the Global South have historically been told from perspectives of scholars and activists in the Global North. The same can be said for disability stories and histories (Swartz, 2018). In recent years, some conversations about disability in the Global South have been told and acknowledged by disability studies scholars. At the same time, most of these stories have been marginalized or deemed irrelevant in disability studies and are often driven by disability theorists from the Global North. Such stories tend to reproduce the ‘coloniality of power’ (Quijano, 2000) by dictating what, how, and whose stories should be told from the Euro-American colonial narrative. With little to no consideration of the distinctive situational and contextual dynamics shaping disability and social relationships in the Global South, Western disability studies has often maintained the power structures it claims it seeks to dismantle (Jaffee & John, 2018). Such epistemic and political contestations require us to be attentive to colonial and imperialist spaces within and across the Global North and South, as possible spaces for re-framing transnational conversations.

This themed issue aims to create a decolonial platform for researchers and activists across the Global North and South to revisit, reclaim, and re-imagine their stories through the lens of decolonial and anti-ableist futures. Decolonial futurity refers to ways of re-imagining our ethical relationships with the land, kin, and communities by centering Indigenous knowledges, practices, and responsibilities beyond coloniality (Nixon, 2016). Decoloniality also bears witness to the past and offers a way to take hold of the future through a reclamation of Indigenous voices, subjectivity, and humanity (Figueroa, 2015). A critical engagement with the decolonial framework allows us to recognize and acknowledge the contested natures of “the Global South,” as well as the politics of knowledge that have been produced from these spaces. 


At the same time, decolonial disability studies encourages us to be cautious of ableist discourses of decoloniality in our efforts to re-imagine and re-write decolonial narratives (Padilla, 2022). It also invites us to critically challenge the ways in which disability has been framed as having no future (Kafer, 2013). This issue will engage with conversations that discuss the potential challenges and problems within post-colonial, decolonial, and anti-colonial frameworks as possibilities for re-imagining disability futurities (Rice et al., 2018). We invite academic and activist writings as well as creative work that explore the struggles inherent in Western disability studies and that offer suggestions for tackling the colonial and neo-colonial obstacles that exist.

We welcome submissions that reflect transnational approaches to disability theories and activism and consider their challenges, tensions, and dilemmas when being applied or translated to the Global South. For example, while ableism has been deeply ingrained within societies across the Global North and South through scientific and technological developments that have shaped ableist expectations about normative and enhanced bodies (Wolbring and Ghai, 2017), several questions still remain: What does ableism look like within transnational contexts? To what extent is this concept useful for Indigenous and Southern communities? How can we re-center Indigenous and Southern epistemologies while also attending to tensions and struggles within these spaces? How can we identify and challenge ableist discourses and practices within decoloniality without relying on and reproducing Northern knowledges? What possibilities can be re-opened for imagining decolonial disability futurities?


In line with transnational justice movements, we also invite submissions that seek to critically engage and deconstruct disability justice movements in the Global North. Exploring questions such as: What does it mean to do disability justice transnationally while avoiding imposing epistemologies of the North on Southern contexts? What tensions and challenges do disability justice movements encounter in relation to disability rights and how they have been utilized by transnational institutions in global disability regimes? And, how do radical spaces for justice across the Global North and South engage with neoliberal discourses of futurities embedded within development institutions and practices to generate alternative ways of conceptualizing and desiring disability (Sins Invalid, 2020)?

Contributions to this themed issue may include but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Ways of understanding post-colonial and decolonial concepts, theories, and praxis in critical disability studies and their limitations;
  • Ways in which disability nomenclature manifests cultural, religious, and modernist configurations and challenges this poses for decolonizing ableist epistemologies;
  • Ways of building intellectual and intertextual alliances across disability studies, crip theory, and decoloniality;
  • Transnational approaches to disability justice across the Global North and South;
  • Conceptualizations and approaches to disability and decolonial futurities in times of ecological crises and global calls for ecological transitions;
  • Contestations, tensions, and implications of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for evolving disability laws in the Global South and North, and opportunities for co-learning;
  • Methodological considerations for using arts-based and other creative and participatory methods as forms of decolonial struggles;     
  • Resistance against colonial, imperialist, gender, ethnicity, and disability oppressions developed by disabled children and youth, families, and communities in the Global South; 
  • Ways of building and anchoring local knowledges and decolonial leaderships with disabled women and girls in the Global South;
  • Possibilities and problematics of disability futurities oriented by intergenerational justice.



Inquiries may be sent to: Guest Editors:

Xuan Thuy Nguyen, Carleton University, [email protected]

Katie Aubrecht, St. Francis Xavier University, [email protected]

Shilpaa Anand, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, [email protected]

or  [email protected]