“This is a necessary book, and as uplifting as it is heartbreaking. These voices have gone unheard for long enough. May these stories of courageous Americans be read far and wide...”
-Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here?, a Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
“Pia Justesen has done a remarkable job in eliciting these candid self-portraits and then crafting them into powerful, evocative stories. The result is a compelling book we very much need at the present moment--or maybe, always.”
-Phillip Lopate, author of To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction
An invitation to discuss disability oppression, inclusive societies, and equality
From the Periphery consists of around 40 first-person narratives of activists and everyday people who describe what it's like to be treated differently by society because of their disabilities. The stories are raw and painful, but also surprisingly funny and deeply moving.
The oral histories describe anger, independence, bigotry, solidarity and love—in the family, at school and at the workplace. Inspired by the oral historians Studs Terkel and Svetlana Alexievich, From the Periphery will become a classic oral history collection that will increase the understanding of the lived experiences of people with disabilities, their responses to oppression and their coping strategies.
Readers will meet Andre, who felt different as a child because she was blind. Her father insisted that she could ride a bike, but neighborhood kids would still ask, "Can I catch what you have?" Marca Bristo acquired her disability after a diving accident and became invisible as a person. Men would only see her wheelchair and she started doubting her sexuality. Curtis Harris was treated like a piece of meat in school. He has come to accept autism as part of his personality: "You are who you are. . . . You reject normalism."
More praise for From the Periphery:
“At a time when people with disabilities face huge barriers to health care, the highest incarceration rates, and the most violence in schools, Justesen’s book is a valuable tool for advocates, teachers, doctors—everyone seeking a broader understanding of people in our society who have faced and fought marginalization and discrimination. Justesen gives us a broad range of intense stories, with voices of people who live with every type of disability and who come from diverse cultures and ethnicities.”
—Susan Minzer, disability counsel for the ACLU
“This book takes the reader on a loving and respectful journey into the hearts and minds of ordinary persons with disabilities with extraordinary tales to tell. It takes the reader into their kitchens and all the ‘small places’ that Eleanor Roosevelt so cherished. It really takes the reader into their souls. Through their heartfelt testimony, it reveals deep hurt as well as the beauty of the human spirit even in dire circumstances. It touches on the intergenerational effects of disability—the love and loneliness of parents and sometimes the distance of siblings. It powerfully reminds us that to be human is to be loved and to feel a sense of belonging. The stories it tells are universal. The right to ‘pursue happiness’—and love and value—belongs to all.”
—Gerard Quinn, Wallenberg chair, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights
“Unless you are disabled, it is difficult to understand how it feels to be disempowered and excluded by barriers, prejudice, and the false assumptions of others. This book makes painful reading, because it throws light on disabling barriers and shows how deeply they penetrate and effect the life of every person who has an impairment. It helps to give voice to the individuals interviewed and to the wider community of persons with disabilities.”
—Lisa Waddington, professor and chair in European disability law at Maastricht University
“"Moving from the Periphery" presents unfiltered and unvarnished stories told by disabled people and parents honestly discussing their personal experiences as they move forward in life. Disabled people and non disabled people will learn not only about the pain people experience but what they are doing to empower themselves and others.”
-Judith E. Heumann, International Disability Rights Advocate
“In elevating the voices of people who struggle every day for understanding, accommodation, and equal treatment, Pia Justesen has made an important contribution to the movement to end the ‘invisibility of disability.’ This moving and highly engaging collection demonstrates the many ways in which society imposes institutional, physical, and attitudinal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from enjoying true equality and freedom. A beautiful work of nonfiction.”
—Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU