Welcome to the new ELA post-doctoral fellow: Dr. Loree Erickson!

This post was written by Dr. Loree Erickson the new Ethel Louise Armstrong Post-Doctoral Fellow.

photograph of white woman with red classes smiling at camera
Dr. Loree Erickson

Hi all!

I am thrilled to be joining all of the brilliant people here at the School of Disability Studies and an incredible group of ELA Postdoctoral Fellows, most recently held by Dr. Tobin LeBlanc Haley.

Here is a little more about me, but I look forward to getting to know you all as well. I am a white, queer, from a mixed class background. I grew up in the territory of the Piscataway and Haudenosaunee Confederacy in rural northern Virginia. I relocated to Tkaronto from Richmond Virginia where I did an undergraduate degree in Politics and Women’s Studies and was a founder and coordinator for The Richmond Queer Space Project a.k.a. Queer Paradise, a community space and collective living project. Once I moved here I was part of the first group of students to complete the Critical Disability Studies Masters at York University in 2005. I then completed a PhD in Environmental Studies with a dissertation titled Unbreaking Our Hearts: Cultures of Un/Desirability and the Transformative Potential of Queercrip Porn.  This research engaged queercrip community as knowledge and cultural producers to interrogate the manifestations and impacts of systemic oppression in our lives as well as highlighting distinctly queercrip practices of resistance with a focus on the collaborative production of queercrip porn. I am also the creator of want, an internationally award-winning queercrip porn film. I am a forerunner in theorizing and thriving through care collectives having met the majority of my care needs through my community for 20 years.  I have organized with the Queer Liberation Front, 81 reasons, Prisoner Justice Action Coalition, DAMN 2025, Acsexxxable, and most recently Queers Crash the Beat. As a sessional instructor at Ryerson, OCAD, and U of T I have been offering classes on sexuality studies, transformative justice, queer theory, gender studies, disability justice, and pop culture. In addition to all of these things I am also a fan of cats, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, sun, sparkly things, and social justice.

During my next two years here at Ryerson’s School of Disability Studies I plan to build on and from ideas central to my dissertation and also aspects from my lived experience. I am mostly going to focus on 2 big projects and probably some smaller ones as they come up. Here is a little more about the research projects I will be working on.

Challenging Cultures of Undesirability and Cultivating Cultures of Resistance Summit.

One project will expand conceptualizations of cultures of undesirability, an intersectional, conceptual framework I developed to name the number of ways that marginalized people are actively imagined as undesirable others, and to bear witness to the systemic and interpersonal impacts of this construction. Cultures of undesirability also enables us to explore all of the rich complexity surrounding systemic oppression in a way that seeks to hold the tension of the need to access protection and rights via state recognition in order to navigate a tremendous number of barriers to well-being, expression and fulfilment while at the same time acknowledging the limitations and consequences of such pathways.

I will be organizing and hosting a weekend long summit called “Challenging Cultures of Undesirability and Cultivating Cultures of Resistance Summit.” I will be inviting 10 to 15 scholars, activists, and artists chosen in consultation with directly impacted communities (harm reduction advocates and users, sex workers, disabled folks, mad folks, trans community, Prisoner Justice activists, etc.) to share papers, performances, and strategies for making change in a variety of formats.

Collective Care Digital Storytelling Project and Website

I started meeting my care needs through collective care because of the inadequacy of government funding to hire care attendants as well as homophobia and disableism from agency-provided care providers. So my friends and I familiar with grassroots organizing that centred community-based solutions to social problems started my very first care collective. I have been meeting my daily care needs (going to the bathroom, eating, maintaining my home) through a collective of volunteers from my community for almost 20 years.  Having one of, if not the longest running care collectives in north America, makes me uniquely situated to lead this research.  I also feel in taking up collective care as a site of queercrip survival and flourishing exposes oppressive normative ideologies and explores conceptual and practical frameworks for building practices to keep marginalized people safe when state interventions fail or expose marginalized communities to more violence and harm.

As so much of the learning and theory making and living of collective care happens between bodies, in private interpersonal moments the knowledge generated in this experience often remains with the people who are involved in the specific care relationships. For years now, people have approached me to share these experiences as well as create tangible resources for other people who wish to form care collectives or who have care collectives. This project is an answer to that call for a gathering of the collective knowledge generated in moments of politicized collective care. I plan on creating an interactive, social-media style website through which collaborators (including myself) can post digital media, and collectively analyze posts through comments and tagging.

Care Cafés

I am thrilled to collaborate with Dr. Eliza Chandler, Dr. Esther Ignagni, and Kim Collins around their death cafés exploring the linkages and interdependencies between death and care.

Queercrip Porn Focus Groups

The lack of representation that fully communicates and reflects disabled people’s complex personhood is well-documented. One area of erasure that my research addresses is sexual representation. My video, want, was the first of its kind in 2006. When I embarked on my dissertation research there were a small handful (if 2 to 3 videos can count as a handful) of queercrip porn videos produced in the spirit of community-based art projects. This work is grounded in storytelling, embodied testimony, video and other participatory crip methods that are informed by transformative justice, queer theory, disability justice and radical access. Our co-created porn narratives have created spaces of community building where subjugated knowledges are revalued, practices and understandings of bodies, affect, disability and desire are transformed, and alternative worlds and imaginaries are made. I focused my dissertation on the transformative impacts of making co-created porn from a disability justice framework. I am hoping to hold between 2 and 4 focus groups where I would show the videos produced for my dissertation in order to discuss the transformative impacts of encountering queercrip porn on queer disabled communities and nondisabled queer communities.

Come See Me!

I am also really excited to be getting to know all of the fabulous people involved with the School of Disability Studies! If you are a student or faculty and you are interested in chatting about any of these things or, even things that are adjacent to any of this, please come by my office (right inside the disability studies area) or send me an email loree.erickson@ryerson.ca and say hello.

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