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With Ford Foundation Grant, Working to Reshape Disability in the Cultural Imagination

Simi Linton, a white woman, with reddish hair and black cats eye glasses, is seated in a power wheelchair in a garden. She is wearing a purple jacket, beaded metallic necklace, and long multi-colored scarf.  She is smiling.

Scholars affiliated with the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication have announced a new major book and community engagement project, Proclaiming Disability Arts

Funded by the Ford Foundation, the initiative aims to empower and connect disabled artists and Disability Justice thinkers. Researchers and curators, book designers, access doulas, and more, are part of the Proclaiming Disability Arts team, working to reshape disability in the cultural imagination and increase the cultural authority of disabled people. 

Proclaiming Disability Arts will be directed by Simi Linton, along with Media, Culture, and Communication Associate Professor Mara Mills as Co-Principal Investigator.

Simi Linton is an author, filmmaker, and arts consultant. Her writings include Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, My Body Politic, and “Cultural Territories of Disability” published by Dance/NYC. She is the subject of the documentary Invitation to Dance (Christian von Tippelskirch and Simi Linton). Linton’s organization, Disability/Arts Consultancy, serves cultural institutions throughout New York City and works to shape the presentation of disability in the arts. Projects include multi-year work with The Whitney, The Shed, Dance/NYC, and Inclusion in the Arts. Linton was a founder and Co-Director of Disability/Arts/NYC [DANT] from 2016-2019. Linton holds a Ph.D. in psychology from New York University and was on faculty at CUNY from 1985-1998. She received the 2015 Barnard College Medal of Distinction, an honorary Doctor of Arts from Middlebury College (2016), and was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015 to NYC’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission [2015-present] and to the She Built NYC Committee. 

Mara Mills is Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University with expertise in sound studies, disability studies, business history, the history of electronics, and the history of the telephone. Her book Hearing Loss and the History of Information Theory is forthcoming from Duke University Press. Mills is currently working on the history of optical character recognition and, with Jonathan Sterne, she is co-authoring a book titled Tuning Time: Histories of Sound and Speed. Mills is a founding member of the steering committees for the NYU cross-school minors in Science and Society and Disability Studies. With Faye Ginsburg, she is co-founder and co-director of the NYU Center for Disability Studies.

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