In this episode Ben is joined in conversation by Tessa Zirnsak, PhD researcher at La Trobe University, to discuss coming out as ‘mad’ in academia. We explore the Madness movement and the field of mad studies, the expertise of lived experience, university study for mad people, and the pitfalls of coming out as “mad” in the university. We also discuss what it’s like to go through a university restructure process from our perspectives as mad academics, as well as Tessa’s research into systemic violence in the disability sector.
00:03:27 Tessa’s courageous invitation for research collaboration with a senior colleague (Ben).
00:09:24 Ben’s enthusiasm to collaborate in Tessa’s research project.
00:13:17 Ben’s story coming out as ‘mad’.
00:14:28 Mad Studies and the mad movement.
00:23:00 Madness and the expertise of lived experience.
00:24:07 Auto-ethnography and lived experience.
00:27:01 University study as a mad student.
00:37:46 Critiquing ‘resilience’ in mental health.
00:41:22 Going through an organisational restructure as a mad person.
00:46:12 Additional emotional labour of being ‘out’ as mad in the workplace.
00:47:34 Tessa’s fears about coming out as ‘mad’ on campus.
00:53:45 Tessa’s PhD research into social approaches to disability.
00:58:27 What might ‘best practice’ look like in the disability sector?
01:00:55 Queer-phobia in disability services.
01:04:05 What does it mean to be an edge-dweller?
- Zirnsak, T & Habib, B. (forthcoming), “Learning from Each Other: An Autoethnographic Dialogue on Being Mad in the Academy” in (ed.) C. McGunnigle. Disability and the Academic Job Market, Delaware: Vernon Press.
- Elizabeth Smith, Tessa-May Zirnsak, Jennifer Power, Anthony Lyons and Christine Bigby. (2021). ‘Social inclusion of LGBTQ and gender diverse adults with intellectual disability in disability services: A systematic review of the literature’. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 1– 14.
- Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
- Living with a Disability Research Centre, La Trobe University.
About Tessa Zirnsak
Tessa Zirnsak is a researcher into social approaches to disability. She currently works at Melbourne University as a Research Fellow on the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, and as a Research Assistant at La Trobe University and Scope across multiple projects concerning psychosocial and intellectual disability. Tessa is also a PhD candidate working on a new philosophical approach to violence against people with intellectual disability.
Contact Tessa on Twitter: @TZirnsak
About Ben Habib, host of Edge Dwellers Cafe
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- Interlude music: “Relax (Drum and Bass)” by vjgalaxy from Pixabay.
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- Interlude voice-over by Jess Love (https://www.jesslovefilmmaker.com/).
This podcast is broadcast from Naarm/Melbourne on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people. Edge Dwellers Cafe pays respect to their elders past, present and emerging.