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Disability Studies Research Workshop: Natalia Pamuła, “‘Crisis Ordinariness’ and the Slow Transformation of 1989: Disability and Gender in Poland”
March 23 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Pamuła’s talk will focus on the Polish disability memoirs published in 1991 in the volume Cierpieniem pisane: Pamiętniki kobiet niepełnosprawnych (Written through Suffering: Disabled Women’s Memoirs). Written through Suffering consists of twenty-one short memoirs submitted as a response to a memoir competition in 1990. Published two years after the first democratic elections, which took place in Poland in June 1989, this anthology shows that contrary to the mainstream narrative in Poland, Western Europe, and the US, 1989 did not bring about a revolution or any dramatic change for disabled women. The women’s memoirs included in this collection question the teleological narrative of linear progression from state socialism to democracy and capitalism and point to the uneven distribution of newly acquired rights. By engaging with domesticity and focusing on the topics of violence and poverty, the collection reveals the ongoing forms of exclusion experienced by disabled women. Written through Suffering shows that disabled women did not experience a transformation in 1989, but rather a continuous stagnation or, to use Lauren Berlant’s phrase, “crisis ordinariness.”
Natalia Pamuła is an assistant professor at the American Studies Center at the University of Warsaw. She received her PhD from the Comparative Literature Department at SUNY Buffalo in 2018. She studies disability discourses and representations in Polish socialist and postsocialist culture. Her work has appeared, among others, in Aspasia, East European Politics and Societies: and Cultures, and Canadian Slavonic Papers. In the Spring 2023, she teaches courses on disability studies and Polish post-1989 culture at Canisius College and Daemen University in Buffalo, NY.