Zara Bain

is creating Philosophy & Disability Advocacy
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About Zara Bain

Hi. I’m Zara.

WHO AM I?

I’m a UK-based PhD candidate in Philosophy. Before that, I taught Philosophy for eight years in a range of secondary schools, sixth forms, and universities. For four years, I was an assistant examiner on a major A-level in Philosophy. Somewhere in between, I started talking on Twitter about my experiences as a disabled PhD student, and from 2013-15 I founded group blog PhDisabled, dedicated to capturing mine and others’ experiences, reflections and expertise navigating the conjunction of academia, disability and chronic illness.

WHAT DO I DO?


I’m a writer, teacher, speaker, and academic philosopher. My scholarship focuses on the way that ignorance works to keep some of us down, and hold some of us up.

WRITE

My PhD, now in its third year of writing, is titled ‘Three arguments for the Epistemology of Ignorance in the work of Charles W. Mills’. It engages political theory, social epistemology, critical race theory/critical whiteness studies to produce the first monograph-length engagement with Professor Mills’s work. It’s going to be great.

CALL OUT, BUILD UP

My disability activism speaks to the structures that perpetuate and facilitate making life so hard for disabled people in universities. I draw on my own and others’ experience to highlight patterns, practices and presumptions that serve to perpetuate ‘disablism’ (or structural disability discrimination and domination). Mostly this happens through writing and speaking.

TEACH

My teaching work focuses on creating fun and accessible pedagogy for teaching intro-level philosophy and critical thinking. I produce resources on my blog, falasafaz!, and offer commission services in resource creation and course design. I’m interested in the ‘pipeline’ of philosophical education including formal and informal subject provision.

WHY ARE YOU ASKING US FOR MONEY?


For the past two and a half years, I’ve been working steadily on my PhD. Give or take the fluctuating chronic illness, recent bereavement, and some other stuff, I’ve made great progress. Everything else has been on hold. Well. I stopped teaching, but I didn’t stop being disabled. The PhD studentship is my only source of income.

But my health issues have combined their powers to render me enough varying flavours of unwell to need to take a year off.

IF YOU VALUE MY WORK, I NEED YOUR HELP


I’m about to interrupt my PhD project, which means that my (generously provided) research-council funding will interrupt along with my status.

There is 13 weeks statutory sick pay available, but using it does nothing to stop the clock before the funding runs out (October), and it’s safe to say I’ve used most of it up already.

With the clock still running, the pressure is still on. This pressure has already created the circumstances such that the only way forward is to smash the bureaucratic big red ‘STOP’ button and make things come screeching to a halt.

That way I get to greet 2020 with a PhD and my health better than somewhere between ‘imminent collapse’ and ‘about to burst into a thousand fiery pieces’.

HELP ME HELP ME OUT


My monthly outgoings come to about £1600 per calendar month. Your contributions will help me cover these costs.

Even though I should be resting, I’m already working on generating alternative revenue streams to meet my monthly outgoings. I’m looking for work at London-based Summer Schools in Philosophy, and I’m already starting to generate some commission work producing bespoke, exciting resources for teaching and learning in philosophy and critical thinking.

But folks, listen, I really, REALLY need to rest.

By chipping into a monthly Patreon fund, you support my work by supporting me to create the conditions in which I can do the work, because the work is important and apparently I’m pretty good at it.

You get to become the philanthropic benefactor I always dreamed of, but a glorious beautiful multi-headed and bodied not at all hydra like figure whatsoever.

WHAT I’LL DO WITH THE MONEY


Pay my rent. Pay my utility bills. Eat food. Get back to 30-40% functional, or better. (Such aspirations!). Keep the dogs in food, meds and toys. And always, work.

NO BUT REALLY, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH MY MONEY


Over the next 12 months:

  • Write brand new essays, blog posts, and twitter threads on disability, ignorance, domination, political philosophy, trashy action movies and Werner Herzog documentaries, grief and lipstick.
  • Blog extracts from my PhD to help me stay in touch with the project, refine and develop my arguments and test out my ideas.
  • Publish teaching and learning resources for intro-level Philosophy to support teachers and students of the subject gain a firm grounding in the basic techniques and topics needed to be confident, competent philosopher.
  • Restarting PhDisabled for 12 more months, with the goal of turning it into a published book of student and staff essays at the intersection of disability, chronic illness and academia.
And in the next 12-36 months:

FINISH THE PHD.

WHAT THEN?


  • A book based on the PhD project.
  • A book whose working title is Ignorance in the Academy: What universities don’t know and what they don’t want to know. I’ll be combining my work telling and amplifying stories from the community of disabled students and scholars with my research on ignorance. Inspired by Sara Ahmed’s On Being Included (2012) and Charles Mills’s work on the ‘epistemology of ignorance’, this book is a first step towards tracking the many interlocking systems of ignorance at work within higher education: racialized ‘white ignorance’, gendered ‘male ignorance’, ‘settler ignorance’, ‘nondisabled ignorance’, ‘cis ignorance’, ‘heteronormative ignorance’, and so on.
  • A book on ignorance in medicine and healthcare, focusing on gendered, racialized and disabling socio-political epistemic systems and the production and reproduction of ignorance, unknowing, denial and self-deception.
  • A book telling some of the story of my family history, in which I trace the journeys of my four grandparents over the twentieth century, a Jewish refugee, an Italian marble merchant, and two Anglo-Indians, as a way of exploring concepts and practices like whiteness, imperialism, and colonialism in twentieth and twenty-first century Britain.

WHAT YOU’LL GET


My everlasting gratitude and a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that you’re supporting me and my work, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Regular patron-only updates including such delights as videos of the Big Dog and Little Dog and other things to amuse, provoke and entertain.

Access to unpublished drafts of my work in advance of publication.

Other stuff, decided in dialogue with my Patrons.
Goals
$23 of $200 per month
One blog post per month, contribute to dog's food and toy repairs bill.
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