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Conference Proceeding

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I base this paper primarily on my teaching of introductory international relations since 1979. Introductory international relations instructors need to give disability issues more attention. First, I look at participants in international relations: states and their leaders; global governance—particularly the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and transnational actors-particularly Disabled Peoples’ Organizations (DPOs). I then examine issues: rights, war and peace, and development. Second, I examine two approaches from the disability studies literature: disability as a deficit demographic category (based on a medical model), and disability as the basis for a social movement (based on a social model). Third, I examine the quantity and quality of discussion of disability issues. I present results from a cursory content analysis of three international relations periodicals and of three leading introductory international relations texts. The approaches have implications for international relations teaching. Fourth, I describe three futures: 1. A “realist” future in which states and blocs battle for hegemony; 2. A “neoliberal” future with winners and losers; and 3. A participatory, pluralistic rights-based future. In all three futures but especially the last, attention to disability issues is vital.


This paper was presented at the International Studies Association-West conference in Pasadena, CA, in September 2017.


The author



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