Producing boundary-breaking texts on disability issues: The personal politics of collaboration

Swartz L. ; Van Der Merwe A. ; Buckland A. ; McDougall K. (2012)


Purpose: This article explores the reflection on a process of inter-collaborative team work to produce a photographic book on caregivers' experiences of parenting their disabled children. The team of authors consisted of members with diverse backgrounds, including media studies, social science and photography. The purpose of this article was to explore and gain a deeper understanding of the process of boundary breaking, one which is important if we are to develop new knowledges and new ways of thinking about disability. Method: In-depth interviews were conducted with all contributors to the book. Results: Themes emerging from the interviews include the existence of different worlds, crossing boundaries, questions about expertise, conflicting hopes and expectations, and the ethics of anonymity. Conclusion: An account of the anxieties, the frustrations and rewarding aspects of the collaboration is provided. We conclude that "us" and "them" categorization permeates our thinking. It characterizes some of the most simplistic thinking in the world of disability able-bodied vs. disabled. In reality, there are no such categories, we all reside along a highly differentiated continuum of changing states of impairment and health. If we open ourselves up to this reality, we can meet one another and draw on one another's knowledge and experience. Implications for Rehabilitation Collaboration between able-bodied researchers and disabled people and their families holds the potential for producing new perspectives on disability and rehabilitation. These collaborations may be emotionally challenging and they hold possibilities for a range of conflicts. Dealing with these challenges conflicts openly and honestly may lead to a deeper understanding of the issues at stake in disability and rehabilitation. We need more examples of reflection on innovative collaborative processes. © 2012 Informa UK, Ltd.

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