Policies, Law and Critical Theory

Niki Peterson Kaiser

The Illusion of Inclusion for Children with Invisible Disabilities in Ontario Public Schools

Invisible disabilities are often difficult to diagnose. In a school system that is strapped for cash and overwhelmed with special needs students, those who don’t present with severe impairments are often excluded from access to an adequate education (Goransson & Nilholm, 2014). A decent, inclusive, cost- free education is a right, guaranteed for all children in Canada (UNICEF, 2009). The failure to provide it ripples like a shockwave throughout the lives of children with invisible disabilities, as their ability to exercise substantive citizenship, seek employment, live independently (etc.) is compromised (Prince, 2009). My master’s thesis will utilize case-study analysis and artistic project analysis to paint an accurate picture of the lack of inclusion for children with invisible disabilities, and how this affects the students, families, and professionals involved. For Undisciplined, I will discuss how the theories and practical concerns inherent in my study intersect from multiple angles, often so intertwined that they cannot be separated. Psychology, sociology, critical disability theory, cultural geography, education, and political science combine to apprise this study. To inform policy change and inspire activism for change, a well-defined problematic is required (Smith, 2006). The opportunity to take this issue and unpack it in a multi-dimensional context, allows me to demonstrate that the implementation of legislated principles of inclusion by Ontario public schools is fractured, unsustainable, and a negative influence on the quality of life for children with invisible disabilities.

Nichol Peterson Kaiser is a first-year Master’s student in Cultural Studies at Queens University. A mature student, Nichol took many years off between her undergraduate degree in Psychology from St. Francis Xavier University and her current program to be a stay-at- home mom to her four children. Two of Nichol’s children have invisible disabilities, which imbues in Nichol the passion for her topic. After years of fighting within the public-school system to provide an inclusive and adequate education for her children, Nichol enrolled her kids in a private school that specializes in educating special needs children, enabling them with the knowledge and life/social skills required to exercise substantive citizenship. As opposed to fighting as a parent within the public-school system, Nichol has now switched her focus to studying from an academic perspective, the phenomena she has witnessed, in the hopes of informing the policy, changing the system, and empowering other parents who face similar struggles with knowledge and a platform for activism.

James McCarthy

It’s in who to give? Respectability politics and the regulation of blood donation in Canada

The goal of this presentation will be to take a socio-legal analysis to the regulation of blood donors in Canada. Although Canada Blood Services and Héma Québec are responsible for screening donors and collecting blood, it is Health Canada which decides, according to the Blood Regulations pursuant to the Food and Drug Act on the processes which these agencies must follow. Thus, although the controversial issue of so-called “blood bans” is typically seen as a political and social justice one, its mechanics are, in fact, legal in nature. The lens through which I will examine blood donor regulation and its opponents is through the concept of “respectability politics”. I am principally interested in how the politics of “respectable” groups impacts two aspects of the blood donor regulation process. First, I will look at what is arguably the most controversial prohibition on donation- the changing restrictions on donations by men who have sex with men (MSM)- and how the incremental nature of these changes may be reflective broader social perceptions. Secondly, I will look at the movement against these restrictions itself, examining the question of why certain prima facie discriminatory blood donation policies are protested as opposed to others.

James McCarthy is a Master’s student in Law in the Political and Legal Thought program at Queen’s University. A graduate of the McGill Faculty of Law and the University of Ottawa, James’ LLM research focuses on comparisons between Canadian and Chinese structures of sub-national government. In addition to comparative law work, James is also interested in administrative law, particularly regarding questions relating to the regulation of lives, choices, and relationships. Prior to returning to university as an LLM student, James worked coordinating education programs for a New Brunswick-based charity which focused in HIV/AIDS, STI’s, and hepatitis C.

Meg Lonergan

The Surrealism of Men’s Rights Discourses on Sexual Assault Allegations: A Feminist Reading of Kafka’s The Trial

Being a feminist in the contemporary Canadian context post-Ghomeshi can lead to existential crises. Perhaps to be a feminist has always necessitated an intimate connection to the Absurd. In this paper I will investigate this relationship of feminist activism and reality, men’s rights activism (MRA) and surrealism, and the Absurd via the work of surrealist novelist Franz Kafka. While the story is popularly understood as an allegory for the alienation and pains of bureaucracy and modernity, I posit a new interpretation of The Trial as a men’s rights perspective of sexual assault allegations. I attempt to utilize Shoshana Felman’s theory of integrated literary and legal visions to read Kafka’s The Trial against men’s rights discourses regarding sexual assault allegations. I find this theory of evidence and repetitions across the disciplines of art (Kafka) and law (the Ghomeshi trial) useful as analytical sites for critically engaging with men’s rights discourses about sexual assault allegations. I demonstrate how The Trial can be interpreted as a representation of the phenomenon of sexual assault allegations according to men’s rights discourses, and demonstrate how these discourses are just as surreal as Kafka’s story. Through the Ghomeshi verdict I will demonstrate how these surrealist fantasies impact real-world sexual assault accusations, trials, and court decisions.

Meg Lonergan completed her Honours Bachelor of Social Science in Criminology and Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa. She received her Master of Arts in Gender Studies at Queen’s University and is currently a Ph.D student in Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University. Her research interests include law and sexuality, critical religion, queer theory, psychoanalysis, feminism, and film studies.