Laura Yakas

Laura Yakas

Laura finished her PhD in anthropology and social work at the University of Michigan in 2018, and is affiliated with the disciplines/communities of Mad Studies and Disability Studies. Her research (or unabashed “mesearch”) has focused broadly on healing under oppression, and specifically the oppression of people labeled as mentally ill or disabled. Her methodologies are experimental and humanistic, combining autoethnography and ethnography, and academic and creative (monologue, song) writing. Though she is interested in challenging the violence that occurs in the everyday lives of people experiencing neurodiversity/madness, her passion lies in challenging the violence that occurs within and due to the (thoroughly corrupted by capitalism) mental health system. Currently, she is an ungrounded gig-economy-worker within social justice education (last/this summer, she was/is an instructor at the Global Leadership Forum at the United World College of the USA, and last/this Fall semester, she taught/will teach the core consciousness-raising Master’s in Social Work course at the University of Michigan), but is hoping to someday have her expletive-for-excrement more stably together. 

By participating in this research collective, Laura seeks to explore the intersection between sexuality and madness as modes of oppression. Her dissertation research emphasized the crucial roles of purpose and belonging (which are social/spiritual needs) in healing from and harnessing one’s experiences of mad oppression, or “saneism.” (Her dissertation was, most cleverly, titled Love in a Time of Madness: The Importance of Purpose and Belonging in Healing and Harnessing Madness). One conclusion she came to was that when people who carry oppressed identities find or create communities in which they feel they have a purpose, and feel they belong, the violence of everyday life in the mainstream loses some of its power. As a queer woman (as well as a Madwoman), Laura is aware that this phenomenon of finding power in purposeful community is something the LGBTQIA community is known for. Gay Pride predated, and likely paved the way, for movements like Mad Pride and Disability Pride. Laura’s dissertation was written by a Madwoman, and she is excited to get even more intersectional, and write as a Madqueerwoman.