Announcing the Winner of the 2021 Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities

by Briana Johnson on October 13, 2021

The University of Michigan Press is pleased to announce that the 2021 Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities has been awarded to Susan Antebi for her book, Embodied Archive: Disability in Post-Revolutionary Mexican Cultural Production.“I have learned so much from Tobin Siebers’ work,” said Antebi upon receiving the award. “His Disability Theory and Disability Aesthetics, texts I read, reread, and debated in seminars over the years, have especially shaped my thinking and that of so many academics within and beyond disability studies. I am incredibly honored and thrilled that my book has been selected for this prize.”

Chosen for its wide-ranging study of disability across post-revolutionary Mexican discourses, Embodied Archive examines “the space that opens up between ineradicable pasts gone wrong and perfectible futures of the ‘cosmic’ Latinx body to come,” according to committee members David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder. “Caught-up in contingencies that express the ambivalence of accepting disability as pathology bound to the body and the improvement of public architectures, health, and structures that could shape a utopic homogenized racialized identity for the Southern Hemisphere,” said the two, “the ‘embodied archive’ turns out to be that which we inhabit from within while thinking we are charting its imperfections from without.”

Mitchell and Snyder work as editors for the Corporealities: Discourses of Disability series at the University of Michigan Press, curating disability studies titles that promote a broad range of scholarly work analyzing the cultural and representational meanings of disability, and serve on the selection committee for the Tobin Siebers Prize. 

Antebi will be honored at an upcoming virtual event commemorating Sieber’s work and the release of Sex, Identity, and Aesthetics edited by Jina B. Kim, Joshua Kupetz, Crystal Yin Lie, and Cynthia Wu, held by the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan at 3 pm EDT on November 3rd. Susan Antebi is Associate Professor of Latin American Literature at the University of Toronto and will receive a cash prize of $1,500 for her exemplary work in the field of disability studies. 

Register for the event. 

About Embodied Archive

Embodied Archive focuses on perceptions of disability and racial difference in Mexico’s early post-revolutionary period, from the 1920s to the 1940s. Influenced by regional and global movements in eugenics and hygiene, Mexican educators, writers, physicians, and statesmen argued for the widespread physical and cognitive testing and categorization of schoolchildren, so as to produce an accurate and complete picture of “the Mexican child,” and to carefully monitor and control forms of unwanted difference, including disability and racialized characteristics. Differences were not generally marked for eradication—as would be the case in eugenics movements in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe—but instead represented possible influences from a historically distant or immediate reproductive past, or served as warnings of potential danger haunting individual or collective futures.

Weaving between the historical context of Mexico’s post-revolutionary period and our present-day world, Embodied Archive approaches literary and archival documents that include anti-alcohol and hygiene campaigns; projects in school architecture and psychopedagogy; biotypological studies of urban schoolchildren and indigenous populations; and literary approaches to futuristic utopias or violent pasts. It focuses in particular on the way disability is represented indirectly through factors that may have caused it in the past or may cause it in the future, or through perceptions and measurements that cannot fully capture it. In engaging with these narratives, the book proposes an archival encounter, a witnessing of past injustices and their implications for the disability of our present and future.

Embodied Archive is a part of the Corporealities: Discourses of Disability series and was made available to read for free through Victoria College at the University of Toronto.

Read the Book on Fulcrum.

The Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities

The work of the late University of Michigan faculty member, Tobin Siebers, has influenced Disability Studies in field-shifting ways since the publication of his prize-winning essay “My Withered Limb” in 1998. His subsequent scholarly publications including the books Disability Theory (2008) and Disability Aesthetics (2010) as well as essays such as “A Sexual Culture for Disabled People” (2012) quickly became pivotal works in the field. Siebers’s work has galvanized new scholarship in relation to questions of representation, subjectivity, and the entry of non-normative bodies into public space, and made the study of disability a central component (alongside gender, race, sexuality, and class) in analyses of the culture wars and identity studies.

To honor this remarkable legacy, the University of Michigan Press and the University of Michigan Department of English Language and Literature established The Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities, now going on its sixth year. Reflecting the scholar’s work the prize commemorates, the competition invites submissions on a wide range of topics, from literary and cultural studies, to trans-historical research, to contributions to disability theory such as work in crip/queer studies.

 

Previous Winners

2019 Kateřina Kolářová, Rehabilitative Post-Socialism: Disability, Race, Gender, and Sexuality and the Limits of National Belonging

2018 Stephen Knadler, Vitality Politics: Health, Debility, and the Limits of Black Emancipation

2017 Elizabeth B. Bearden, Monstrous Kinds: Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability

2016 Shelley L. Tremain, Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability

2015 Anne McGuire, War on Autism: On the Cultural Logic of Normative Violence

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