Reconsidering Knowledge and Power: Reflections on Disability Communities and Disability Studies in Canada

  • Michael J. Prince Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy University of Victoria
Keywords: Knowledge production and circulation, Power relations, Canadian state, Disability activism, Ontological multiplicity


Reflecting on knowledge production offers imaginative ways to think about disability organizations and Disability Studies. Following Foucault, the concepts of knowledge and power are central to this discussion and in addressing these questions: what kinds of knowledge circulate in and around disability communities in Canada? How does this knowledge connect disability organizations and movements with the Canadian state and other institutions in society? What might the future hold for more creative and innovative knowledge production for disability studies, disability activism and social change? The article maintains that the politics of knowledge production are not so much about generating evidence in contrast to ignorance, as about multiple forms of knowledge interacting with, and struggling against each other within particular fields of power relationships. The marginal status of lived experience by people with disabilities is the outcome of a politics of reality, of who gets to decide what counts as evidence and who gets to decide the rules around knowledge production and dissemination.

Author Biography

Michael J. Prince, Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy University of Victoria
Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy
University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada