Karina Cardona Claros

Coerced Mobility in the Ableist City, MA (candidate), Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba

Karina Cardona ClarosI am a critical social geographer who explores how neo-liberal expectations of personal mobility contribute to the construction of dis/abled subjectivities and embodiments in the ableist city. Within urban governance and everyday life, persons with diagnosed “physical impairments” are inscribed onto the city as “mobility impaired,” ostensibly to improve persons’ access to services and opportunities. Yet, these ableist discourses ultimately expose people to disabling and undignified embodiments and experiences. To examine how this operates at numerous scales and in various contexts, I apply a mixed method qualitative approach with persons who (like myself) have acquired spinal cord injury. Through our images and stories, we aim to encourage a shift in understandings of how urban (im)mobility is experienced, constructed and maintained in place.

My research interests and volunteerism are greatly influenced by my own history of immigration and impaired mobility. Coming to Canada from El Salvador as a child refugee helped me to see how space and place greatly influence people’s lives. Adjusting to life with altered mobility has demonstrated to me much about how urban design and policy reflects society’s values and impacts peoples’ quality of life.

My passion for putting ideas into action has nourished my education and career over the last 15 years. My undergraduate studies in Urban Geography and Environmental Studies helped me learn how to articulate my observations within the context of broader issues and systems. My contributions to community have focused upon collaborative arts, youth mentorship, strategic planning, fundraising, and project management for non-profit organizations. I promote an inclusive and just society through initiatives that aim to build belonging and enhance participation. Currently, I operate on the Board of Directors for Art City Inc. and the Steering Committee of Children’s Health and Environment Partnership (CHEP).

Awards that I have received include the University of Manitoba Faculty Association Paul Fortier Prize for Student Activism (2013), Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2012-13), the Manitoba Graduate Scholarship (2011-12), the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources Entrance Award (2011) and the Gold Medal in Geography from the University of Winnipeg (2005). I am fortunate to have Dr. Jeffrey Masuda as my research advisor.

Visit my project website to learn more about my current research: http://mobilityintheableistcity.blogspot.ca

Contact: cardonak(at)myumanitoba.ca