From the Periphery: Real-Life Stories of Disability (Paperback)

From the Periphery: Real-Life Stories of Disability Cover Image
By Pia Justesen, Tom Harkin (Foreword by)
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From the Periphery consists of nearly forty first-person narratives from activists and everyday people who describe what it’s like to be treated differently by society because of their disabilities. Their stories are raw and painful but also surprisingly funny and deeply moving—describing anger, independence, bigotry, solidarity, and love, in the family, at school, and in the workplace. 

Inspired by the oral historians Studs Terkel and Svetlana Alexievich, From the Periphery will become a classic oral history collection that increases the understanding of the lived experiences of people with disabilities, their responses to oppression, and the strategies they use to fight for empowerment. 

About the Author

Pia Justesen, PhD, is a Danish human rights lawyer, professor, and writer who moved to the United States in 2014. In Chicago she has taught disability rights at the University of Illinois and worked with the independent living organization Access Living. She has an extensive list of publications on human rights and discrimination issues. Her work focuses specifically on the human rights of racial minorities and persons with disabilities. In Denmark she also worked as a corporate social responsibility advisor and a labor union lawyer. Pia has three children and lives with her husband. She currently splits her time between Chicago and Copenhagen. For more information: and

Tom Harkin served as US Senator from Iowa from 1985 to 2015. He coauthored the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and was its chief sponsor in the Senate.

Praise For…

"This is a necessary book, and as uplifiting as it is heartbreaking. These voices have gone unheard for a long enough. May these stories of courageous American be read far and wide." —Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here?, a finalist for the National Book Critic Circle Award

"At a time when people with disabilities face huge barriers to health care, the highest incarceration rates, and the most violence in schools, Justesen's book is a valuable tool for advocates, teachers, doctors—everyone seeking a broader understanding of people in our society who have faced and fought marginalization and discrimination. Justesen gives us a broad range of intense stories, with voices of people who live with every type of disability and who come from diverse cultures and ethnicities." —Susan Mizner, disability counsel for ACLU

"In unfiltered and unvarnished stories, disabled people and parents honestly discuss their personal experiences as they move forward in life. Disabled people and nondisabled people will learn not only about the pain people experience but also what they are doing to empower themselves and others." —Judith E. Heumann, international disability rights advocate

“A mind-expanding collection of important stories.” —Kirkus Reviews

"A perfect primer for anyone interested in disability studies, oral histories, and getting to know the disabled community in a more personal way." —Library Journal

"These first-person narratives are eye-opening, honest, and compelling."—Booklist
Product Details
ISBN: 9781641601580
ISBN-10: 1641601582
Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books
Publication Date: October 1st, 2019
Pages: 336
Language: English