by Faye Ginsburg

About Faye Ginsburg

Faye Ginsburg is Founder and Codirector of the Council for the Study of Disability at New York University, where she is also David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Media, Culture and History. She is an award-winning author/editor of four books, all reflecting her long-standing interest in cultural activism. She is currently working with Rayna Rapp on research and writing on cultural innovation and cognitive difference.


The word “family” is highly charged in disability studies. On the one hand, families are seen as the site of nurturance, narrative, and theory building for those with disabilities (Bérubé 1996; Davis 2000a; Grinker 2007; Kittay 1999). On the other, families are recognized as potential sites of repression, rejection, and infantilization. Whether seen positively or negatively, the term “family” is often taken for granted as a preordained, self-sufficient unit in discussions of family life influenced by disability. In the American context, the ideal of family generally involves parent-child relations in a classic heterosexual, nuclear, able-bodied household despite the coexistence of many other forms of family organization that incorporate members with disabilities: single parents, same-sex unions, extended family formations, and “families we choose.”