Hybridity, when related to identity research, points to a blending of difference in such a way that new performances of identity may appear in various social interactions. Exploring hybridity can create new perceptions of social life and reveal the complex ways that people’s diverse relationships and life stages construct people’s identities. In this critical autoethnography, I consider how disability and racial identities intersect. More specifically, I relate how my narrative experience with the disabling symptoms of Graves’ Disease impacted the ascription of Asian racial identity based on the reading of the physicality of my eyes. Grounded in these personal narratives, I theorize about ways that hybridity can cross boundaries of categorical difference in the ways that it is socially constructed, fluid, and changing. Some changes are expected, as age transforms all of us; others are unexpected, as the body and mind are surprised by illness and rapid physical changes impact avowed and ascribed identities. I offer this autoethnography of these intersecting spaces as one performance of evolving identity work that impacted my own and others’ imagination of race and disability. I hope to create new insight into how our social worlds are constructed (and privileged ideologies promoted) in everyday life.
The Hybrid I/Eye: A Critical Autoethnography of Intersecting Race and Disability Identities
Elizabeth S. Parks (PhD, University of Washington) is an assistant professor of Communication Studies at Colorado State University, dialogue and diversity specialist for the Center for Public Deliberation, and adjunct assistant professor with the Colorado School of Public Health. Her scholarship blends social scientific and humanistic methods to improve dialogue across difference, whether that be diverse ethnicity, race, language, culture, disability, or other identity performance.
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Elizabeth S. Parks; The Hybrid I/Eye: A Critical Autoethnography of Intersecting Race and Disability Identities. Journal of Autoethnography 11 January 2021; 2 (1): 26–38. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/joae.2021.2.1.26
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