MARTA RUSSELL (December 20, 1951 – December 15, 2013) was an American writer and disability rights activist. Her book, Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract published in 1998 by Common Courage Press analyzes the relationship between disability, social Darwinism, and economic austerity under capitalism. Her political views, which she described as “left, not liberal,” informed her writing on topics such as healthcare, the prison-industrial complex, physician-assisted suicide, poverty, ableism, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Disabled since birth, Marta’s identity as a writer and journalist emerged as her disability progressed and she had to navigate the disability policy netherworld to survive. She became involved with disability rights groups such as ADAPT. A photographer as well as a producer of audio and visual content, Russell was recognized in 1994 with an award from the City of Los Angeles Commission on Disabilities for her contributions to disability society in the media. Russell was co-producer/correspondent for the KCET Life & Times documentary entitled, “Disabled & the Cost of Saying ‘I Do”, which was honored with a prestigious Golden Mike Award for Journalism (1995) from the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California.
In addition to writing for New Mobility and the Monthly Review, Russell contributed articles to numerous scholarly and policy journals such as the Journal of Disability Policy Studies and the Socialist Register as well as print and online newspapers such as The Los Angeles Daily News.
In 2016, Routledge Press published an anthology dedication entitled, “Disability Politics in a Global Economy: Essays in Honour of Marta Russell“. The book was edited by Ravi Malhotra and numerous authors contributed. In 2018, a paperback edition of the book was released.
A Second Edition of “Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract” was released in Amazon Kindle digital format in 2016. The new edition features a foreword by Ravi Malhotra.
Haymarket Books announced a forthcoming book of Marta’s writings entitled, “Capitalism & Disability: Essays by Marta Russell“. The book will be published in 2019 and was edited by Keith Rosenthal.