Events Calendar

Congress Event

Conference of the Canadian Disability Studies Association (CDSA)



Saturday, May 28, 2016 to Monday, May 30, 2016


See pages 46-47 in the Congress Guide

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About the conference

The Canadian Disability Studies Association-Association Canadienne des Études sur l'Incapacité (CDSA-ACÉI) conference brings together critical scholarship, arts, and activism that treats disability as a site rich for socio-political engagement, and as a culture, community, and a vibrant way of being in the world. The work presented at this conference thinks about disability, Deafness, and Mad-identity in relation to themes as diverse as neoliberalism, community building, sexuality, race and colonial relation, Indignity, citizenship, culture, sport, policy, religion, art, family relations, fashion, war, and futurity.


Featured speakers

CDSA-ACEI Keynote Address: Eugenics, Newgenics and Beyond: Reproductive Justice as Political and Moral Response to Community Exclusion, Dr. Claudia Malacrida, University of Lethbridge. 

Disability scholarship has often focused on ‘community’ inclusion through the lens of workplace and educational inclusion. This talk extends community membership to include disabled peoples’ sexual and reproductive engagements. 

Communities have policed disabled people’s sexual and reproductive lives through both active and passive eugenics. Active eugenics in Alberta led to the involuntary sterilization of over 2300 people deemed to be ‘deficient’. Passive eugenics undergirded a system of asylums and institutions in 20th-century Canada that sequestered disabled people, effectively excluding them from a sexual and reproductive life. Simultaneously, euthenic programs’ operated through ‘social support’ systems like Guidance Clinics, rendering disabled people vulnerable to both passive and active eugenics. In Alberta, these systems cooperated seamlessly for almost 50 years. 

Active eugenics is no longer legal in Canada; in 1972, Alberta’s Sexual Sterilization Act was struck down, and the 1986 passing of Eve’s Law guarantees the rights of Canadian citizens with “diminished capacity” (sic) to bodily integrity, disallowing parents, guardians or caregivers to impose involuntary sterilization. Similarly, the large, passive eugenic institutional settings of the 20th century have largely fallen by the wayside. 

Active and passive eugenic practices, however, persist, often falling outside of traditional rights protection and disability activism. Active newgenics in the form of sexual and reproductive control and lack of access, passive newgenics through lack of information, deliberate misinformation and protectionism, and ‘newthenics’ in the form of child apprehension and an almost deliberate-seeming lack of support for disabled parenting, continue to control peoples’ relational, sexual and family lives. In this talk, I examine how these experiences inform and mobilize current approaches to reproductive justice, and how moving beyond a ‘rights’ perspective is critical to claiming and supporting this important aspect of ‘community living’. 

Claudia Malacrida is a Board of Governors Research Chair and Professor in Sociology at the University of Lethbridge in Canada. She is the author of several books on disability, health and the body, including Mourning the Dreams: Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Early Infant Death (Left Coast Press), Sociology of the Body: a Reader (Oxford University Press), Cold Comfort: Mothers, Professionals and ADHD (University of Toronto Press), and A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta’s Eugenic Years (University of Toronto Press). 

Malacrida is engaged in two ongoing research projects. “Eugenics to Newgenics in Alberta” explores the continuities and disjunctures between historical eugenic actions and current responses to disabled people's sexuality and reproduction. “Childbirth and Choice” examines the cultural, structural, moral, social and discursive contexts that both constrain and produce women’s childbirth experiences. 

Featured events

On May 28, CDSA-ACEI, in collaboration with Canadian Association for the Study of Indigenous Education, and Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes we will present an International keynote address open to all Congress attendees. Dr. Dian Million, of the University of Washington, will give a presentation tentatively called, ‘Therapeutic Nations: Healing in the Age of Indigenous Human Rights’. 

Dian Million (Athabascan) is an associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Washington. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, Million has conducted research in Canada and the United States.She teaches courses on Indigenous politics, literatures, feminisms and social issues. 

Generously awarded financial support from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences International Keynote Speaker Support Fund.


Only those people who are registered for Congress 2016 and have added the Canadian Disability Studies Association (CDSA, #293) to their Congress registration may attend this conference. Please note that conference registration fees are separate from the association's membership fees.

About the association

For more information about membership or this conference, please contact the association directly at the contacts listed below.

  • Program Chair: Eliza Chandler, Ryerson University
  • Local Arrangement Coordinator: Katrina Milaney, University of Calgary; Gregor Wolbring, University of Calgary
  • Association website: