February 8, 2023
Three-year collaboration between UC Davis and Yale connects disability and chronic illness
Adapted from original article by Jeffrey A Day, February 08, 2023
An American studies professor in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science has received a $1.5 million award from the Mellon Foundation for a project to explore the intersection of research on disability and chronic illness. The three-year project in partnership with Yale University aims to develop a national network of scholars, culture workers and organizers who will bring disability justice approaches to the study of chronic illness.
“Enduring Conditions: A Disability, Illness, and Care Collaboratory” is being led by Associate Professor Ryan Lee Cartwright in conjunction with Kalindi Vora, a professor at Yale University and former director of the UC Davis Feminist Research Institute.
Bringing together disabilities and chronic illnesses has been complex.
“Many people with disabilities are not chronically ill and don’t like to be thought of as ill — and vice versa,” Cartwright said. “But we’re learning more and more about chronic and acute illness and how it intersects with disabilities. COVID has become a mass disabling event, and those with long COVID have learned a great deal from those with disabilities. Likewise, the Disability Rights Movement of the 1970s came out of the mid-century polio epidemic, another mass disabling event. As we are witnessing fundamental social and economic transformations wrought by COVID, bringing disability studies and disability justice to bear on the study of chronic illness has become increasingly urgent. It’s an important moment to have these conversations.”
The project could involve several College of Letters and Science departments, other UC Davis colleges and centers, as well as community organizations and individuals. The Department of American Studies has another connection to the Mellon awards: UC Davis alumna Emily Beitiks (B.A., American studies, ’05) is interim director of The Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University, which received $1 million as part of the same grant cycle.
In collaboration with colleagues in Foundation Engagement, members of the Interdisciplinary Research Support (IRS) team helped Dr. Cartwright navigate the proposal preparation and submission process, including budget development, multi-campus integration, interpreting sponsor and university guidelines, and obtaining institutional commitments for the project. IRS Director Sheryl Soucy-Lubell notes, “By assisting Dr. Cartwright on this project, I became much more aware of the unique circumstances faced by individuals with disabilities in their research and scholarly pursuits. That awareness now carries over into my daily interactions with all of my clients. I am so glad I had this opportunity to work with and learn from Dr. Cartwright.”