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Esther Ignagni

Director and Associate Professor
EducationMSc, PhD
OfficeSally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Studies in Community Health, Room SHE-524
Phone416-979-5000, ext. 4286
Areas of ExpertiseDisability, parenting/parenthood and kinship; Intimate and domestic life; Accessibility; Media and cultural representations of disability and difference; MAiD and other explorations of disability and death; Systemic and institutionalized ableism; Disabled childhoods and youth

My research interests centre on intimate citizenship within dis/ableist cultures. I want to better understand how our private lives as disabled people are shaped by public institutions and cultures that assume and demand ‘able’ and sane’ body-minds. Specifically, my work explores how we create families, parent children, engage in caring relations, exercise reproductive rights and intimate justice within contexts shaped by dis/ableist and eugenic legacies, but aspire toward ‘crip kinship’. My broader research interests extend to disability and death, and how in a post-MAiD Canadian context, we must find new meanings of disability vitality, futures and finitude.  I am also committed to the deployment of disability aesthetics, forum theatre and design fiction to reimagine disabled/mad/Deaf/sick selves, bodies, communities and worlds as affirmed and valuable. My research and scholarly ethic is participatory - reflecting my work and activist roots in the anti-violence, AIDS action and disability movements - I try to work closely with the public to generate and disseminate new knowledges through co-production and other collaborative approaches.  As part of this effort, I use the arts and work with artists whenever possible within my research process. Arts informed approaches I believe, have the potential to make university research more accessible and engage a broader array of audiences.


Teaching responsibilities:

  • DST 501: Rethinking disability
  • DST 725: The politics and practice of intervention
  • DST 99: Senior independent undergraduate project
  • INT 902: Disability issues (course co-ordinator)
  • DST 502: Disability & the state 
  • CS 8944: Contemporary social and cultural theories and disabilities

Teaching interests:

  • Theories and practices of the state
  • Social and and cultural theories of the body-mind and disability
  • Queer and feminist theories
  • Research methodologies

Research interests

  • Parenting, families and kinship
  • Intimate citizenship
  • Death and dying
  • Phenomenologial, feminist and queer theories
  • Design and speculative fictions
  • Participatory, arts-informed and critical design methodologies

Research projects:

  • 2018-19 Social Sciences and Humanities Partnership Engage Grant designing crip futures (Co Principal Investigator).
  • 2018-20  Association of Ontario Midwives Midwifery Care for People with Physical Disabilities (Role: Co-investigator).
  • 2018-19 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Connections Grant. Cripping the Arts. (Role: Collaborator).
  • 2017-18  Women’s College Hospital Foundation: Women’s Xchange Challenge: Towards intimate well-being: A design fiction pilot. (Principal Investigator).
  • 2017- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Gant. Reconciling the social model of childhood disability with pedagogy: The effects of teacher training to facilitate friendship-building. (Role: Co-investigator).
  • 2017-18, Ryerson Faculty of Community Services Seed Grant Dialogues on death. (Role: Co-investigator).
  • 2016 - 21 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant Bodies in Translation. Art, Technology and Access to Life. (Role: Collaborator).
  • 2015 – (various funders) Thinking with our ‘chemical stories’. (Role: Co-Prinicipal Investigator).

  • 2018 Deathnastics. Performative at The Bunker of Contemporary Arts, Toronto.
  • 2018 Welcome to PainSonic….(with L. Fisher, E. Chandler, S. Lee, G. Swain, L. St. Marie, M. Dumont, D. Bobier, K. Liddiard and A. Darby)
  • 2015 Colour-Blind an installation at Crip Interiors/Project Creative Users, Nuit Blanche Toronto, Toronto. (with A. Mahamud).
  • 2015 The Dinner Scenes, A forum theatre series performed Consuming Intimacies, St. Catharines. (with K. Elbard, C. Austin, R. Hunt, R. Pierre, K. Collins, C. Barry and A. Fudge Schormans).


  • Ignagni, E. (2019 in press). Not just a job: Women, disability and thinking about work generously. In Nichols, L. & Tyyska, V. (editors). Working Women In Canada: An Intersectional Approach. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.
  • Chandler, E. & Ignagni, E. (2018). Strange Beauty: Aesthetic possibilities for sustaining disability into the future. In Ellis, K, Thomson, R.G., Kent, M. & Robertson, R. (editors). Interdisciplinary approaches to disability. London: Routledge, pages 255-264.
  • Jivraj, T. and Ignagni, E. (2015). Disability and disabling practices. Wright, J. (ed) International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioural Sciences, London: Elsevier.

Technical reports and expert opinion papers available upon request.

Journal articles:


  • Tanis Doe Award for Leadership in Disability Culture, 2018
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Research Centre for Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, 2016 
  • Sue Williams Teaching Award, Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University, 2010