In March 2013, a New York Times cover story exposing the author's childhood relationship with disability forced Rodas to confront her usual practice of nondisclosure in the disability studies classroom. This article is both memoir and identity theory, a remembrance of the writer's childhood experience as guide and companion to a blind and spectacularly noticeable sibling, an exploration of the possibilities and politics of ambiguous disability identity, and a meditation on the responsibilities and pitfalls of disability identity politics and practice. Contextualized by theoretical writing about self-disclosure and pedagogy, the article traces the writer's own learning trajectory around public exposure, disability identity, and disability representation, visiting the politics of language, considering how disability insiders should respond to novice thinkers about disability, and contemplating questions of legitimacy, hierarchy, and political territory. While couched in autobiographical terms, at its heart the article explores implicit relationships of power and violence around the naming or claiming of disability identity—violating exposures, colonizing practices, grappling for ownership—and proposes a “satellite” model to figure the way many ostensibly nondisabled people discover and define themselves in relation to the apparent centrality and authenticity of disability.
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Julia Miele Rodas; Limited Visibility; Or, Confessions of a Satellite. Pedagogy 1 October 2015; 15 (3): 493–505. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-2917073
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