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Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Assistive technology mediates the relationship between disabled and able-bodied lives. Recognizing the varied definitions and uses of technology, this thesis uses the phrase “assistive technology” to reimagine and reconceptualize the relationship between disabled people and their technology. Conjuring the idea of “support” or “aid,” an examination of assistive technology invites dialogue on relationships of both interdependence and mutual exchange. In this thesis, while assistive technology is used to encompass a wide range of technological mediums, particular attention is given to the intimate everyday uses of technology by disabled people. In closely reading ventilators and gelatin as forms of assistive technology, the chapters of this thesis explore and reimagine socially approved bodily relations to and with technology. To examine assistive technology, this thesis begins at the level of the intimate, that is the quotidian spaces of care, treatment, and disabled life. I engage with two artifacts of visual culture; public discourses of ventilators in the Covid-19 pandemic and the “bio-shrine” gelatinous sculptures of artist Sharona Franklin. Specifically, the experiences of Michael Hickson and Sharona Franklin—two disabled people with varied experiences navigating ableism—are united in their intimate relationship with assistive technology. I ask, how does critical disability studies conceptualize technology? What materials, components, relationships, modes of labour, and forms of mediation are encompassed by the category “assistive technology”? And lastly, what are the potentials born from embracing our intimacy with technology? To consider these questions, I posit the framework of disabled assemblage which envisions the trans-corporeality of disabled life. Chapter 2 engages with the implications of the interwoven projects of ableism and racism on disabled life by considering the genealogies of scientific thought and technological development. Chapter 3 contributes to discourses of disability, aesthetics, and materiality by positing gelatin as a form of assistive technology. Through the framework of disabled assemblage, this thesis identifies not only the implications of redefining conceptions of assistive technology, but also the importance of examining assistive technology within critical disability studies.
The definition of and discourses surrounding Filipinx identity have been historically circumscribed by gendered and racial expectations. Such expectations have been essentialized through colonial and state narratives, as well as the more unintentional means of socially-driven standards that stem from the Philippines’ eras of occupation. Filipinas and queer Filipinxs have been particularly subject to stereotyping by colonial powers and the Philippine elite, which results in their continued relegation to certain stigmatized or limited roles. I look to Filipinx komiks to demonstrate that accounting for the construction of appearance, both in terms of self-representation and the representation of others, destabilizes the hegemonic notion of essential identities. Indeed, the interconnection of surface and self is purposefully overwritten in the colonial and hegemonic advancement of singularizing images of the Filipina and the queer Filipinx. This thesis aims to challenge the naturalization of identities that are assigned to Filipinas and queer Filipinxs by emphasizing modes and cultures of self-formation as they are represented in Mango Comics’ "Mars Ravelo’s Darna" and Carlo Vergara’s "Zsazsa Zaturnnah." The komiks’ superheroes, Darna and Zaturnnah, emphasize self-formation by visualizing the different configurations of gender, race, sexuality, and class that Filipinas and queer Filipinxs construct as surface appearances in order to navigate social hierarchies that seek to other them. I discuss how komiks can afford the unique representation of Filipina and queer Filipinx self-formations by examining sequentiality and the interplay of visual and narrative components—characteristics that distinguish komiks from other mediums, particularly in their ability to emphasize marginalized perspectives. I also discuss specific instances in which Darna and Zaturnnah represent self-formation. At the same time that they signal the historical and on-going systems that seek to delegitimize Filipina and queer Filipinx subjectivities, Darna and Zaturnnah push femme and queer transformations to the forefront and demonstrate the power and joy of performance. "Mars Ravelo’s Darna" and "Zsazsa Zaturnnah" at once name systems of social degradation and resist circumscription within them, through complex interconnections of form and representations of self-formation.
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