Dis/ability, Agency, and Context: A Differential Consciousness for Doing Inclusive Education



In any sociocultural context, efforts to promote inclusive education may evoke trajectories of change that are as unpredictable as they are inexhaustible, stimulating the production of a range of disability subjectivities, performances, and constructions. This article unearths such local constructions by focusing on the experiences of nongovernmental organization educators and families of students with disabilities in Chennai, India, as they collectively engaged in inclusive education activity. Using the framework of differential consciousness (Sandoval, 2000) I explore the oppositional agency of participants in securing equitable opportunities for students with disabilities in mainstream settings. My aim in doing thus is to animate the links between local practices and global concepts of inclusive education. Even though the narratives of participants index “place” as the predominant signifier of inclusion, their decision making within hugely inaccessible contexts discloses their compulsory movement through multiple, sometimes contradictory, positions to achieve equitable schooling. I subsequently draw on these narratives and more broadly on U.S. third world feminist scholarship to suggest a few lines of inquiry that can serve a transnational theory of inclusive education.