Image description: Picture of the Purple Parade 2022. Taken from a vantage point, it shows a large crowd, all dressed in purple, in front of a large stage.

My research focus on disability is born out of passion, as something that needs to be done, rather than expediency. My longstanding intellectual and ethical commitment to disability research and inclusion began in 2007 when I first met Ron Chandran-Dudley, the Singaporean founder chairperson of Disabled People’s International, the first international disability-led organization. He was then an interviewee for my Bachelors’ dissertation. The stories around disability advocacy that he shared influenced me deeply, and it was he who introduced me to the fundamental tenets of disability studies. Uncle Ron as I called him, became like a grandfather to me. In the years that followed, his life’s work inspired me to work in the disability sector so as to implement and shape policies towards an inclusive society. Uncle Ron’s unexpected passing in 2015 came as a shock to me and was one of the key reasons I decided it was time to pursue disability research in the hope of creating a better world that builds on this legacy.

My research interests fall generally in these fields: the practical and policy implications of inclusion and how inclusion as an idea is created, circulated, and consumed; the intersection of technology and disability in the smart city; and disability culture and the arts.

In 2023, together with my fellow editors, Meng Ee Wong, and Dan Goodley, we published the first Singapore-focused critical disability studies volume, titled Not Without Us: Perspectives on Disability and Inclusion in Singapore. Outside of the academy, i continue to be widely engage in a praxis centred on disability studies. I am involved with the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) where i serve as the Country Representative for Singapore under its Smart Cities for All global initiative. 

The workings of inclusion

My book project is based on my PhD research, supervised by Lennard J. Davis, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago. The book manuscript is tentatively titled The Biopolitics of Inclusion, Disability and Capacity in the Singapore Nation. I take inclusion as the object of study, and situate Singapore's experience with global developments in embracing disabled people as part and parcel of human life and diversity. In this work, I analyse a diverse range of cultural phenomenon, specifically, policy texts and documents; public education campaigns and media representation of disability; carnivals celebrating disability inclusion; and accessible spaces and the built environment.  I examine how inclusion as an ideology is created, circulated, communicated, and consumed in Singapore, and undertake an interdisciplinary approach towards understanding the logics of inclusion and the lived realities of disabled people in Singapore as well as the demands it places on the body politic. 

Emerging Technology and Disability 

I am privileged and excited to have the opportunity to collaborate and work with Gerard Goggin, Professor of Media and Communications, University of Sydney on emerging technologies and disability, and honoured that we are co-writing a book out of this research. In this work we explore the intersections of disability and emerging technologies such as IOT; 5G; automation and AI; driverless cars; and robotics. In particular, we are interested in understanding the socio-technical imaginaries of disability as encapsulated and envisioned in articulations of emerging technologies.  

Disability in the Smart City

This work builds on my stint as a Princeton Fung Global Fellow '22, where I research the intersections of disability, technology, and sustainability as it emerges within the smart city.

As both a conceptual frame of reference and a vision that is being realized, the smart city is increasingly embraced, with many iterations emerging across Asian nation-states such as Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, and Bangkok among others; seen as the means towards mobilizing technology to create more liveable futures. And while smart cities are an area of emerging critical scholarship, little has been done to understand how disability in all senses of the term – as a population group, state of being, identity, and importantly, a generative form of knowledge – function within such conceptualizations of the smart. This work aims to provide an illuminating lens to understand and explain the intersecting effects of technology on citizen-bodies, in particular by tracing the technologies involved in the production of the “smart” and its emphasis in improving the health of the nation, manifested in disabled, diseased, and ageing bodies.