Wow. I am so excited to be writing this here, on my blog. So I have been working with a fellow disability studies scholar who has diabetes (the amazing Bianca Frazer) on putting together the parameters for a book about how diabetes is represented and how various groups of folks with diabetes respond to those representations.

I am pasting the call for proposals (CFP) here because I want this open call to be as accessible to people as possibly, scholars and community members alike. If you want to submit a chapter proposal for this book of collected essays, see the link at the bottom of the call.

Without further adieu….

CFP: Diabetes on Display: Complicating Social, Political, and Cultural Representations of Diabetes

Call for Chapter Proposals

Edited by Bianca C. Frazer and Heather R. Walker

We seek essays 3000-6000 words in length for inclusion in a book to be submitted to The University of Michigan Press series titled Corporealities: Discourses of Disability. The series editor has expressed interest in the project which will focus on social, political, and cultural representations of diabetes. We invite works that are theoretical, analytical, and/or empirical. 

In the U.S., diabetes has many social and cultural representations -from a joke alluding to someone with a “poor lifestyle” to an “epidemic” that needs to be resolved. The great majority of popularized portrayals are stigmatizing to populations with diabetes – some more than others. 

 Stigma occurs in a social context where a person is understood by others to have “undesired differentness”’ (Goffman, 1963, p. 5). That undesired differentness can be internalized or contested by those ascribed it as an identifier. We approach discourses of diabetes representation through the lens of the abject, because “people’s knowledge about diabetes is filtered through different modes of experience- individual, familial, community, cultural” (Bock, 2015, p. 135). This collection seeks to answer three central questions: What are the social, political, and cultural representations of diabetes? How do these portrayals interact with the broader social environment? How do diverse groups of people touched by diabetes respond to various representations? This volume provides a robust analysis of representations of diabetes with the intent to deconstruct both mundane and insidious messages about it in cultural, political, and social spaces. 

The purpose of this book is two-fold: 1) to serve as an intervention in the humanities and social sciences by offering a critical perspective on social, cultural, and political representations of diabetes; and 2) to establish diabetes as a site of inquiry in the field of critical disability studies where it has been largely overlooked. 

Critical disability studies has yet to consider representations of diabetes, while health-related fields typically view intervention on diabetes at the individual management and prevention level. The editors of this collection are guided by Tobin Siebers’ (2017) theory of complex embodiment as a starting point to engage the social and cultural dynamics of diabetes in U.S. culture. Complex embodiment views “the economy between social representations and the body not as unidirectional as in the social model, or nonexistent as in the medical model, but as reciprocal” (p. 284). Through this book project we seek to examine such spaces of reciprocity in the midst of contemporary issues like the insulin crisis to analyze the complexities of self-care, embodied willpower, and stories that permeate media about diabetes. Jeffrey A. Bennett’s (2019) account of diabetes in the public imagination furthered this conversation while the escalation of the insulin crisis has generated self-representation and social activism by people with diabetes. In this shifting landscape of activism diabetes is being politicized – meaning representations of diabetes need to be changed. A wider population of people with diabetes are coming into empowered consciousness and engaging in beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors described by Disability Studies scholar Alison Kafer’s political-relational model of disability (Kafer, 2013). 

Monographs such as Making the Mexican Diabetic (2011), Sugar and Tension: Diabetes and Gender in Modern India (2018), and Traveling with Sugar (2019) analyze diabetes in specific contexts. To further this burgeoning research, this collection brings together scholars from disparate fields to establish how diabetes is conceptualized in the face of ableism, racism, neoliberalism, and health care inequity. While medical anthropology is doing some of this research, critical disability studies offers unique tools to unpack the historical and contemporary cultural narratives around diabetes.

The book will be organized into a three-part intervention. We invite chapters that intervene at the cultural, political, and social levels. Though not constrained to this list, we invite chapter proposals that explore or respond to topics like the following:

  • Representations of diabetes in theater and performance 
  • Representations of in television and film
  • Representations of complications and diabetes 
  • Representations of diabetes in the visual arts
  • Representations of diabetes in memoir, poetry and creative writing
  • Representations of diabetes in social media
  • Representation of diabetes technology or through technology  
  • Historical perspectives of diabetes 
  • Contemporary perspectives of diabetes (e.g. the insulin crisis) 
  • Fictions, stories, and memoirs of diabetes 
  • U.S. perspectives on cultures of diabetes
  • Intersections of race, class, disability, gender and diabetes 
  • Cyborg experiences and diabetes 
  • Diabetes and celebrity 
  • Diabetes justice
  • Diabetes activism and advocacy 
  • Diabetes Social Movements
  • Morality and diabetes 
  • Diabetes and sickness
  • Non-Linear/Crip time and diabetes 
  • Cripping diabetes
  • Queering diabetes
  • Sexuality and diabetes
  • Music and diabetes

The selected chapters will be between 3,000-6,000 words. Initial chapter proposals should be no more than 250 words and use APA format. Proposals and a short author bio should be submitted via this google form: by February 15th at 12pm CT-USA. The full book proposal will be submitted in April 2020 to University of Michigan Corporealities, who has already expressed an interest in relation to the Discourses of Disability series. 


CFP: Early January

Proposal submission Due: February 15th

Notification of selected chapters: March 15th

Book proposal submitted: April 15th

Full chapters Due: September 15th

Peer Reviews Due: November 15th

Final chapters Due: January 15th

Manuscript to Publisher: February 15th


Bennett, J.A. (2019). Managing Diabetes: The Cultural Politics of Disease. New York, NY: NYU Press.

Bock, S. (2015). “Grappling to Think Clearly”: Vernacular Theorizing in Robbie McCauley’s SugarJournal of Medical Humanities, 36(2), 127-139.

Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Kafer, A. (2013). Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Montoya, M. (2011). Making the Mexican Diabetic: Race, Science, and the Genetics of inequality. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.  

Moran-Thomas, Amy. (2019). Traveling with Sugar. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.  

Siebers, T. (2017). Disability and the Theory of Complex Embodiment: For Identity Politics in a New Register. In L.J. Davis (Ed.), The Disability Studies Reader (313-331). New York, NY: Routledge.

Weaver, L.J. (2018). Sugar and Tension: Diabetes and Gender in Modern India. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Siebers, T. (2017). Disability and the Theory of Complex Embodiment: For Identity Politics in a New Register. In L.J. Davis (Ed.), The Disability Studies Reader (313-331). New York, NY: Routledge.

Weaver, L.J. (2018). Sugar and Tension: Diabetes and Gender in Modern India. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 

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