I first began to ask questions about disability and solidarity when studying at a Buddhist temple in Asakusa. During a ritual exercise, I was unable to prostrate my body due to muscle weakness. The monks around me offered to help move my arms and legs and together we found a way for me to participate in the practice. I started to wonder: 1) How does disability galvanize interpersonal relationships? (2) What are the limits of accommodation? and (3) Can disability help us think through issues of diversity and difference in community formation?
Questions about disability and solidarity run throughout my work, but they are particularly prominent in chapters three and four of my dissertation, which collectively explore kinships tied to the rise and fall of institutions for impaired individuals in Japan during the late 1960s and 1970s. I have also taken up issues of disability and solidarity in a collection of public-facing articles, podcasts, and blogs on websites like Accessible Japan. In “Disability and Dreams in Japan’s Maid Cafes,” I examined how fantastic environments, choreographed interactions, and other estranging elements in Japan’s ‘Geek Mecca’ of Akihabara help people to reimagine the relationship between disability and able-bodiedness. Similarly, in “Engineering Employment: Robots and Remote Work for Persons with Disabilities,” I identified how recent developments in Japan’s industrial sphere such as telecommuting and microtasking have created labor possibilities for impaired individuals.