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Esther Ignagni

Director and Associate Professor, School of Disability Studies; Acting Director, School of Social Work
EducationMSc, PhD
OfficeSally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Studies in Community Health, Room SHE-524
Phone416-979-5000, ext. 554286
Areas of ExpertiseDisability, parenting/parenthood and kinship; Intimate and domestic life; Accessibility; Media and cultural representations of disability and difference; MAiD and other explorations of disability and death; Systemic and institutionalized ableism; Disabled childhoods and youth

My research interests centre on intimate citizenship within dis/ableist cultures. I want to better understand how our private lives as disabled people are shaped by public institutions and cultures that assume and demand ‘able’ and sane’ body-minds. Specifically, my work explores how we create families, parent children, engage in caring relations, exercise reproductive rights and intimate justice within contexts shaped by dis/ableist and eugenic legacies, but aspire toward ‘crip kinship’. My broader research interests extend to disability and death, and how in a post-MAiD Canadian context, we must find new meanings of disability vitality, futures and finitude.  I am also committed to the deployment of disability aesthetics, forum theatre and design fiction to reimagine disabled/mad/Deaf/sick selves, bodies, communities and worlds as affirmed and valuable. My research and scholarly ethic is participatory - reflecting my work and activist roots in the anti-violence, AIDS action and disability movements - I try to work closely with the public to generate and disseminate new knowledges through co-production and other collaborative approaches.  As part of this effort, I use the arts and work with artists whenever possible within my research process. Arts informed approaches I believe, have the potential to make university research more accessible and engage a broader array of audiences.

Teaching Responsibilities:

  • DST 501: Rethinking disability
  • DST 725: The politics and practice of intervention
  • DST 99: Senior independent undergraduate project
  • INT 902: Disability issues (course co-ordinator)
  • DST 502: Disability & the state 
  • CS 8944: Contemporary social and cultural theories and disabilities

Teaching Interests:

  • Theories and practices of the state
  • Social and and cultural theories of the body-mind and disability
  • Queer and feminist theories
  • Research methodologies

Research Interests:

  • Parenting, families and kinship
  • Intimate citizenship
  • Death and dying
  • Phenomenologial, feminist and queer theories
  • Design and speculative fictions
  • Participatory, arts-informed and critical design methodologies

Research Projects:

  • Stretching our Stories (SOS): Digital world-making in troubled times, SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, 2020-2023 (Co-Investigator)
  • Disability Studies’ Digital Research Methods Course, eCampus Ontario Grant, 2021-2022 (Principal Investigator)
  • Sex and the Pandemic, SSHRC Connections Grant, 2020 (Co-Investigator)
  • Designing Crip Futures, SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant, 2018-2020 (Co-Principal Investigator)

  • 2018 Deathnastics. Performative at The Bunker of Contemporary Arts, Toronto.
  • 2018 Welcome to PainSonic….(with L. Fisher, E. Chandler, S. Lee, G. Swain, L. St. Marie, M. Dumont, D. Bobier, K. Liddiard and A. Darby)
  • 2015 Colour-Blind an installation at Crip Interiors/Project Creative Users, Nuit Blanche Toronto, Toronto. (with A. Mahamud).
  • 2015 The Dinner Scenes, A forum theatre series performed Consuming Intimacies, St. Catharines. (with K. Elbard, C. Austin, R. Hunt, R. Pierre, K. Collins, C. Barry and A. Fudge Schormans).

Select Chapters:

  • Ignagni, E. (2019). “Not just a job”: Disability, work, and gender. In L. Nichols (Ed.), Working women in Canada: An intersectional approach (Ch. 6). Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.
  • Chandler, E., & Ignagni, E. (2018). Strange beauty: Aesthetic possibilities for desiring disability into the future. In K. Ellis, R. Garland-Thomson, M. Kent, & R. Robertson (Eds.), Interdisciplinary Approaches to Disability (pp. 255-265). Routledge.
  • Jivraj, T. and Ignagni, E. (2015). Disability and disabling practices. In J. Wright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of social and behavioural sciences. London: Elsevier.

Technical reports and expert opinion papers available upon request.

Select Edited Publications:

  • Jerreat-Poole, A., Ignagni, E., Edwards, H., & Cherniawsky, T. (Eds.). (2022). Digital Methods for Disability Studies. Ryerson University Library. Available from
  • Chandler, E., Aubrecht, K., Ignagni, E., & Rice, C. (Eds.). (2021). Cripistemologies of disability arts and culture: Reflections on the Cripping the Arts Symposium [Special issue]. Studies in Social Justice, 15(2).  

Select Journal Articles:

  • Chandler, E., Ignagni, E., & Collins, K. (2021). Communicating access, accessing communication (Dispatch). Studies in Social Justice, 15(2), 230-238.
  • Ignagni, E., Chandler, E., & Collins, K. (2021). Activating the arts in death: What are the cultural implications for MAiD? Cultural implications for MAiD. International Health Trends and Perspectives, 1(3), 336-344.
  • Bobier, D., & Ignagni, E. (2021). Interview with David Bobier (Dispatch). Studies in Social Justice, 15(2), 282-287.
  • Ignagni, E., Chandler, E., Collins, K., Darby, A., & Liddiard, K. (2019). Designing access together: Surviving the demand for resilience. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 8(4), 293-320.
  • Tanis Doe Award for Leadership in Disability Culture, 2018
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Research Centre for Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, 2016 
  • Sue Williams Teaching Award, Faculty of Community Services, 2010