I Was Never Alone or Oporniki: An Ethnographic Play on Disability in Russia
I Was Never Alone or Oporniki presents an original ethnographic stage play, based on fieldwork conducted in Russia with adults with disabilities. The core of the work is the script of the play itself, which is accompanied by a description of the script development process, from the research in the field to rehearsals for public performances. In a supporting essay, the author argues that both ethnography and theatre can be understood as designs for being together in unusual ways, and that both practices can be deepened by recognizing the vibrant social impact of interdependency animated by vulnerability, as identified by disability theorists and activists.
- Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom
- World Rights
- Page Count: 218 pages
- Illustrations: 20
- Dimensions: 6.1in x 0.6in x 9.2in
"Cassandra Hartblay’s I Was Never Alone is among the most important publications in disability studies that attends to the multiple and contested meanings of disability and impairment in a specific location. Hartblay’s ethnography of disability in northeastern Russia encourages us to interpret the social and built environment around us in critical and generative ways; the limitations as well as the potential that she traces in the region should encourage all readers to imagine new, varied, and critically crip futures."
Robert McRuer, George Washington University
"I Was Never Alone showcases the power of performance ethnography to rise up to anthropology’s greatest challenges: to co-produce ethnographic knowledge that is non-extractive, collaborative, relevant, effective, responsible, and just. This is a wonderful book that joins the growing field of experimental and multimodal anthropology; it is compelling, accessible, teachable, and world-opening as it moves across genres of representation and engagement, including ethnographic argumentation, play script, field notes, photographs, and classroom exercises. We see not only what it means to ‘crip theater,’ but what it looks like to share power in the production of engaged anthropology."
Debra Vidali, Emory University
"Located at the intersection of disability studies, performance studies, and cultural anthropology, Casandra Hartblay's I was Never Alone or Oporniki presents a startlingly original approach to what the author labels ‘disability expertise.’ The book amplifies the collective work of producing creative theater. The voices, theatrical grit, and cultural specificity of people with disabilities in Russia resonate off the page, opening up new channels of understanding and action."
Rayna Rapp, New York University
Author InformationCassandra Hartblay is an assistant professor of Anthropology and Health Humanities at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.
Table of contents
About This Book
Cast of Characters
Portrait I: Vera
Portrait II: Vakas
Portrait III: Alina
Portrait IV: Sergei
Portrait V: Rudak
Portrait VI: Anya
Ethnographer’s Essay: Rituals of Vulnerability
a. Words for Disability
b. Disability in Russia
c. Defining Performance Ethnography
d. Performance Ethnography and/in Anthropology
Staging Disability: Interdependency and Crip Time
Making I Was Never Alone or Oporniki: Origins and Writing Process
Representing Russia on the North American Stage
Making I Was Never Alone or Oporniki: Casting and Rehearsing Access: Disability Theatre in Practice
Appendix 1: Performance Ethnography Exercises
Appendix 2: Disability Terminology
Appendix 3: Russian and Soviet Historical References
Appendix 4: Suggestions for Reading this Work in the Classroom
Appendix 5: Prop List and Dramaturgical Note
Appendix 6: An Ethic of Accommodation
Appendix 7: Glossary and Pronunciation of Russian Words
Subjects and Courses