Cassandra Hartblay is an award-winning scholar of disability and postsoviet Russia. An ethnographer and cultural anthropologist by training, her work contributes to interdisciplinary conversations in queer/feminist disability studies, global studies, and infrastructure studies. Cassandra’s work on comparative regimes of productivity and dependency, as related to gender, disability, and the welfare state, received the competitive Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies in 2013. She has also worked as an applied qualitative researcher with the Soros Foundation, contributing to a collected volume on inclusive education in Central Asia. She is a dedicated ethnographer devoted to community engagement, critical praxis, social change, and fostering cross-cultural understanding. In addition to scholarly and popular writing, Cassandra’s documentary work includes oral history, digital archives, ethnographic theater, and documentary photography. Cassandra received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on May 10, 2015.

Project Summary

How do disability rights come into play in US-Russia relations? When do they get left out? In 2012, the Russian Federation ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). As of 2014, the United States has not ratified the same Convention. In policy briefs and news articles, disability advocates cite the fact that Russia has ratified the CRPD as a manner of shaming US lawmakers, implying that a country often considered to be backwards on human rights is ahead of the United States on this issue. Dr. Hartblay's fellowship research documents the recent history of transnational disability advocacy regarding the UNCRPD, and the ways that US foreign policy strategy concerning Russia does and does not take into account disability. This research, leading to a framing chapter for a forthcoming ethnographic manuscript, focuses on qualitative interviews with DC area experts.

Major Publications

A Genealogy of (post-)Soviet Dependency: Disabling Productivity. 2013 Zola Award Article, Disability Studies Quarterly, 34(1), 2014.

“Raising Children without Complexes : Successes and Shortcomings in Implementing Inclusive Education in Northern Kyrgyzstan” with Galina Ailchieva, in Learning to See Invisible Children: Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Central Asia, ed. Kate Lapham and Martyn Rouse, June 2013.