The University of Toledo houses the only disability studies program in the country with faculty members solely devoted to disability studies, one of whom was recently recognized for her work.
Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe, assistant professor of disability studies, was granted the Western Social Science Association’s 2016 New Scholar Award.“It’s an honor to be someone representing disability studies, which is a very tiny discipline compared to some of the other [social sciences],” Ben-Moshe said. “It’s also an honor that specifically it’s work on incarceration of people with disabilities that’s getting attention.”
Ben-Moshe specializes in applying disability studies to imprisonment and incarcerated individuals. She recently edited Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada, a book examining the incarceration and segregation of people with disabilities, which she cites as one of the reasons she received recognition.
When asked what drew her to disability studies and incarceration, Ben-Moshe explained the two fields didn’t intersect at first: “I saw that people who do anti-prison work are amazing advocates, but they didn’t really talk about disability. And when they did, they didn’t really understand disability as an identity and a culture, but as a deficit. And vice versa, people who do really good work in disability areas don’t know anything about prisons.”
Through her work, Ben-Moshe hopes to bridge the gap between the two fields. Since the book was published, the editors have been invited to various universities and grassroots organizations nationwide to speak, which is where Ben-Moshe encourages collaboration.
“We really started this conversation on a national level,” she said. “I hope this isn’t the full conversation, but hopefully it’s just the beginning of the conversation.”
The Western Social Science Association works to advance scholarship, teaching, service and professional exchange across the social science disciplines. Its mission is to foster professional study and promote teaching of social science.
Ben-Moshe will receive her award later this month at the president’s luncheon at the association’s annual meeting in Reno, Nevada, where she will present her research.