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UB Center for Disability Studies Presents...

"Athlete First": A Note on Passing, Disability and Sport
Michael A. Rembis

Friday December 3, 2010
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
University at Buffalo
Park Hall 280


We all pass. Some people have been engaging in various forms of passing for centuries: Jew as gentile, Black as white, gay as straight, woman as man, man as woman, disabled as nondisabled. In this paper, Professor Rembis will use modern sport to take a fresh look at the ways in which disabled people have learned to pass in the nondisabled world. He argues that passing need not always involve the act of physically concealing one's impairment, but rather depends upon how well one can approximate the gendered, white, heterosexual, nondisabled norm and meet societal expectations for conduct, competition, appearance, and performance. Exploring the experiences of elite disabled athletes and the history of the rise of modern disabled sport offers an opportunity to further enrich our understanding of passing, because it forces us to think about blurring the lines between disabled and nondisabled, and think critically about the fluidity and contingency of social constructions of normality.

Professor Rembis is the inaugural (2010-2011) visiting scholar in the Center for Disability Studies and the Department of History at the University at Buffalo. He came to Buffalo from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a visiting scholar in the Department of American Studies and the Department of History. His work, which has appeared in Disability and Society, Disability Studies Quarterly, Sexuality and Disability, Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, and History of Psychology, has won several awards, including the 2008 Irving K. Zola Award, awarded annually by the Society for Disability Studies to emerging scholars. His first book, Defining Deviance: Sex, Science, and Delinquent Girls, 1890-1960, is forthcoming (2011) from the University of Illinois Press.

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