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    Students with Hidden Disabilities in Higher Education: Disruption, diffraction and the paradox of inclusion in theory and practice.

    Appleyard-Keeling, Lisa Victoria (2021) Students with Hidden Disabilities in Higher Education: Disruption, diffraction and the paradox of inclusion in theory and practice. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This thesis explores hidden disability and higher education through the perspective of New Materialisms and post-qualitative methodology: therefore, sitting within the Posthuman Disability Studies umbrella (Goodley et al, 2014). It questions and queries ableism and inclusion for disabled students in the marketised, neoliberal academy of the 21st Century. It argues that students with hidden disabilities are not offered an inclusive educational experience, but rather are assimilated into higher education’s ableistic practices. It also argues that inclusion, where this exists, happens as a singular event, with inclusion in one session and one moment being no guarantee of future moments of inclusion. It also argues that a complex range of multiple factors continually combine to create either inclusion or exclusion and that a simplistic, tick-box approach towards diversity ensures that inclusion of students with disabilities in higher education remains an aspiration, rather than a reality. Seven student-participants from one Post-92 university in the North-West of England contributed to this study. To explore inclusion and higher education, this thesis uses a range of entangled creative methods. Data utilised includes narrative interviews, poetry, photography, artwork and animation, these have been analysed through a diffractive methodological approach (Barad, 2014) which includes elements of speculative fiction, or ‘fabulations’ (Stewart, 2014). These fabulations are written in response to exclusionary educational events and offer mundane and everyday fictions of an inclusive future as-yet-to-come. Posthumanism has swiftly, and radically, shifted the boundaries of methodological research possibilities. This thesis responds to this boundary shift by drawing upon thinkers such as Braidotti (2012) and Deleuze and Guattari (1980/1987) to utilise transdisciplinary ‘minor’ rhizomatic writing to question ableistic and exclusionary knowledge production practices.

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