Transitions Podcast
AAA Annual Meeting Podcasts – 2023/2022
Cassandra Hartblay: The Cultural Dimensions of Disability & Performance Ethnography

In this episode of the AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting podcast, Cassandra Hartblay talks with Matt Artz about the theme of transitions, her research on the cultural dimensions of disability in post-Soviet Russia, and her use of performance ethnography as a method to explore and understand disability. They also discuss the importance of accessibility and inclusion, both within the academic field and in the city of Toronto. Finally, Cassandra shares recommendations for places to visit and highlights the Tangled Art + Disability art gallery as a vibrant hub for showcasing the artwork of disabled artists.

About Cassandra Hartblay

Cassandra Hartblay is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Health Humanities at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is also the Director of the Centre for Global Disability Studies. With a background in sociocultural and medical anthropology, Cassandra specializes in gender, sexuality, and disability theory, with a specific regional focus on Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Cassandra’s research combines ethnographic methods with documentary arts, performative and visual formats, and traditional academic writing. She brings a unique blend of academic expertise and experience in non-profit work, digital media, and event planning to her work in academia, contributing to institution building within the field.

At the core of Cassandra’s research is an exploration of citizenship and disability, particularly within the context of post-Soviet Russia. Her work bridges the fields of Medical Anthropology, Disability Studies, and Queer Theory, offering a synthesis of theoretical perspectives to understand and address the complex intersectionalities of disability and citizenship. Cassandra’s ethnographic approach enables her to delve deep into the lived experiences and perspectives of individuals, contributing to a nuanced understanding of disability in its social and cultural contexts.

About the 2023 AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting

The 2023 /CASCA Annual Meeting is being held Nov. 15-19 in Toronto, Canada. The theme for this year is Transitions. Transitions may be the most constant feature of everyday life. With endless uncertainties that are exacerbated by political turmoil, pandemic unpredictability, and climate crisis, our quotidian experiences are steeped in mutability. Transitions present us with both challenges and opportunities, not only in our everyday lives but also in our work as anthropologists. We hope that transitions may be something that we can approach with a sense of experimentation, imagination, and play, rather than a growing state of exhaustion and dread. As we navigate these transitions, we continue to think about how anthropology can rise to face our current condition, or ways it may fall short. For more information, visit

About the AAA

Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.

It publishes a portfolio of 22 journals, offer career planning and professional development services, support college and university departments, award numerous prizes and fellowships, sponsor a paid summer internship program, and stage research conferences in the Fall and Spring each year.


The Canadian Anthropology Society/Société canadienne d’anthropologie is a bilingual organization operating at a national level with the mandate to promote anthropology in Canada; support anthropological research; disseminate anthropological knowledge in the academic milieu and to the wider public.

La société canadienne d’anthropologie est une organisation bilingue opérant au niveau national et qui a pour mandat de : promouvoir l’anthropologie au Canada; soutenir la recherche anthropologique; diffuser la connaissance de cette discipline dans le milieu académique et dans le public en général.

About Matt Artz

Matt Artz is a business and design anthropologist, consultant, author, speaker, and creator. He writes, speaks, and consults in user experience, product management, and business strategy. He creates products, podcasts, music, and visual art. His podcasts include Anthropology in Business and Anthro to UX.