Settler colonial ableism: Alec Moore, Tracing the Colonial Dimensions of ‘Special Education’: History, Disability, and Settler Colonialism, MA dissertation, Brock University, 2022


Abstract: This thesis proposes that there are intersections between settler colonialism, disability, and education, that can help to clarify how and why national recognition of violence against Indigenous communities is a central project of the nation-state. For this reason, the exacerbating impacts of ableism and (settler) colonialism are studied for their impact on schooling and education in Canada. Using Critical Discourse Analysis as a method of inquiry, the Ontario First Nations Special Education Review Report is analyzed for its relation to history, pedagogy, and colonialism. The report is useful to investigation of the connection between current and historical conceptualizations of disability and the history/present of settler colonialism within the Canadian nation-state. The thesis is framed through the understanding that ableism and colonialism, as they appear in “special education”, are intertwined forces which are often founded upon white supremacy and framed through Eurocentric discourse. As such, this thesis engages the fields of Critical Disability Studies, Settler Colonialism, Indigenous Studies, and Education, to describe how special education is informed by colonial constructs of schooling. Conclusions drawn through applying these theories to a reading of the Ontario First Nations Special Education Review Report suggested that there is an apprehension to adopt disability discourse because of the history of colonialism and the ongoing presence of Debility. As well, there is an immediate need to address the systemic issues regarding funding, resource access, and self-determination because of the historical and continued injustices that occur within First Nations education.

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