A year in Skin Stories: 2019

A person with long black hair sits up in bed, under a blanket, in a bedroom, reading a book.

Our second season featured our signature personal essays, but also expanded the scope of Skin Stories to reportage and commentary about disability.

Here’s looking back at what we published online this year. 

By Shreya Ila Anasuya

Skin Stories launched in August 2017, as a digital publication focusing on first-person narratives by people with disabilities. Its origins were in an unnamed blog, part of the Sexuality and Disability programme at Point of View.

After over a year of publishing our essays — during which we won two awards, were featured in workshops, conferences, festivals, and talks, widely republished on mainstream and alternative media, and used as resources by non-profits and university classrooms — we launched our second season in June 2019.

Our second season featured our signature personal essays, but also expanded the scope of Skin Stories to reportage and commentary about disability.

Here’s looking back at what we published online in 2019.

In our #DisabilityIn mini-series, four essays looked at the intersection of disability with one major cultural or political arena. My own essay looked at how mainstream English language media represents disability. Payal Dhar looked at how disability is represented in children’s literature. Akriti Paracer analysed disability in political discourse, and Madhavi Shivaprasad reported on stand-up comedians addressing disability in their work.

Akshita Nagpal reported on Deaf culture in Delhi, while Riddhi Dastidar looked at problems with implementing the new mental healthcare act in India, especially around institutionalisation.

A figure wearing black standing holding crisscrossed red threads. Words cut out of newspaper are placed on their hair.

Credit: Alia Sinha

Dr Nandini Murali looked at the devastating impact of stigma surrounding suicide in an essay about her own experience in the wake of her husband’s death by suicide. Amit Dhar talked about living as a queer and disabled person, and how these intersecting identities have impacted his experience, especially in the workplace. Niluka Gunawardena wrote about prosthetics, and the politics and possibilities of a cyborg world.

A number of people (each wearing a device or prosthetic) stand together against the background of a futuristic city.

Credit: Upasana Agarwal

Debojit Dutta talked about his experience with therapy, and the socio-political contexts which mental healthcare professionals must take into account. Archismita Choudhury wrote about surviving domestic violence, and how trauma continues to impact her relationship with her co-survivor — her mother.

Three persons, one holding crutches, performing stand-up comedy to an audience. Text above the venue's entrance: Comedy Night

Credit: Upasana Agarwal

We also published a comic by Tanika Godbole on living with social anxiety, and panels questioning abled norms, illustrated by Val Resh (Reshma Valliappan), first seen at CREA’s reconference 2019.

The second post included text by Janet Price, Niluka Gunawardena, Nidhi Goyal, Rupsa Mallik, and Resh herself — all part of the working group for the disability track at the conference.

Light purple background. Two women are standing holding hands. Behind them is a wall with many framed pictures.

Credit: Upasana Agarwal

In December, we were delighted to launch the Skin Stories book– an anthology of our work featuring the work of thirty-five writers and three artists. Read more about the launch, held at Title Waves Bookstore in Mumbai on World Human Rights Day, here.

In the coming year we will be taking the book to more cities, as well as organisations, collectives and individuals who can use it in their own disability and gender justice work. Please check back with us for more details on where the next few offline events around the book will be held.

For those of you who have asked, Skin Stories online submissions are closed for now as we focus on sharing what we have already published – and taking the book to a wider audience.

A very happy new year from all of us at Skin Stories, and happy reading!

Featured image credit: Alia Sinha