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Julia Watts Belser headshot

Julia Watts Belser

Senior Research Fellow

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Latest Updates

September 20, 2019

Disabled People Cannot Be “Expected Losses” in the Climate Crisis

In Truthout Senior Research Fellow Julia Watts Belser argues that if we persist in framing disability and climate change as a problem of physical vulnerability, we miss the underlying realities of structural violence: how ableism, racism, and class inequality work together to compound and intensify risk.


Julia Watts Belser is an associate professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University and core faculty in Georgetown's Disability Studies Program, as well as a senior research fellow at the Berkley Center. Her research centers on gender, sexuality, and disability in classical Jewish texts, as well as queer feminist disability ethics. She is the author of Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2018). She has held faculty fellowships at Harvard Divinity School and the Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an ordained rabbi, as well as a longtime activist for disability, LGBTQ, and gender justice. She co-authored an international Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities, developed in collaboration with disability activists from 42 countries and translated into 14 languages. She currently directs an initiative on disability and climate change, which brings together disability activists, artists, policy makers, and academics to address how disability communities are disproportionately affected by environmental risk and climate disruption. She previously taught a class supported through the Berkley Center's Doyle Seminars project.