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Narrating resistance: a B.C. mother's story of disability rights activism

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
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Though mothers have engaged in social activism to expand the citizenship rights of people with intellectual disabilities for the last 50 years, research in disability studies has been slow to examine what can be learned from their experience. Using a life story approach, this thesis explores how one activist mother, Jo Dickey, describes raising a son with intellectual disabilities and advocating for the social inclusion of people with disabilities and their families between 1955 and the present. Informed by ethnographic theories of performativity and intersubjectivity, I show how Jo performs resistance by recounting how she contested ideologies and systemic practices through everyday acts and collective action in the past, and by simultaneously speaking to discourses and audiences in the present. Her storytelling challenges the limits imposed on people deemed to have intellectual disabilities, foregrounds her negotiations of disability and gender politics, and creates discursive space for an activist mother’s perspective.
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