Book available for pre-order!

My first book, I Was Never Alone or Oporniki: An Ethnographic Play on Disability in Russia, is now available for pre-order from University of Toronto Press,, and The book is scheduled for release in May 2020 [edited to note publisher’s delay] November 2020.

book cover shows book title "I was never alone or oporniki: an ethnographic play on disability in Russia: Cassandra Hartblay" in grey, yellow, and red text inside of a yellow circle reminiscent of a spotlight on an off-white background over a partial view of theatre seats which are painted in a way that some are fading into the background.

I Was Never Alone or Oporniki presents an original ethnographic stage play, based on fieldwork conducted in Russia with adults with disabilities. The core of the work is the script of the play itself, which is accompanied by a description of the script development process, from the research in the field to rehearsals for public performances. In a supporting essay, the author argues that both ethnography and theatre can be understood as designs for being together in unusual ways, and that both practices can be deepened by recognizing the vibrant social impact of interdependency animated by vulnerability, as identified by disability theorists and activists.

The book is one output of several years of ethnographic research on the life experiences of adults with disabilities in post-Soviet Russia. More information about the development of the project is here. This book precedes a monograph, Totally Normal, based on the same fieldwork that explores the legacy of Soviet design in the life experiences of Russians with mobility impairments in one city in Northwest Russia.

This book is pitched to undergraduate audiences, and suitable for teaching in courses exploring disability studies, experimental and creative ethnography, documentary arts, engaged theatre, and contemporary Russia.