Critical Disability Studies at the Edge of Global Development: Why Do We Need to Engage with Southern Theory?

  • Xuan Thuy Nguyen Assistant Professor Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University
Keywords: critical disability studies, Southern theory, epistemology, global development, colonialism, imperialism, decolonization


This paper examines critical disability studies through the lens of Southern theory–a theoretical perspective on the process of knowledge production in social sciences which embodies intellectual projects from the global South (Connell, 2007). Building on Helen Meekosha’s question on decolonizing disability (2011), I critique the domination of Northern disability studies by proposing an engagement with Southern theory. My argument is three-fold: First, the use of Southern theory enables us to interrogate the domination of Northern epistemologies in Southern contexts; second, this theory unveils how colonialism has continued to manifest itself through the knowledge practices which have made the experiences of disabled people in the global South invisible; and finally, situated within the context of global development, this theory enables critical disability studies to act as a project of decolonization that engages with Indigenous ways of knowing about disability experiences. 

Author Biography

Xuan Thuy Nguyen, Assistant Professor Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University

Assistant Professor

Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University


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