“Disability Theory is just the book we’ve been waiting for. Clear Tobin Siebers persuasively argues that disability studies transfigures basic. Disability Theory, Tobin Siebers (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, pages). Reviewed by Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson, Miami University of Ohio. Tobin Siebers’. “Disability Theoryis just the book we’ve been waiting for. Tobin Siebers in some of the major debates of the last thirty years in critical and cultural theory.
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ISBN pbk pp. And like this important predecessor, Siebers makes good use of theoretical and cultural studies approaches to disability to historicize the disabled body against the disanility to treat disability as a metaphor for something else. Contact Contact Us Help. In this, I am not unique. With the paradigm of the social body in mind, I now look at a building with stairs but no wheelchair ramp, and I see a building designed for a social body that can easily walk on two legs.
The strength of social constructionism lies in its dual understanding that we cannot view bodies outside of culture, and that this insight, in and of itself, is liberating.
This book has two audiences as its focus: This blog does not allow anonymous comments.
Disability Theory Tobin Siebers Limited preview – Once we represent disability as a common human experience, it becomes much more difficult to justify withholding rights because of physical difference. Clear, cogent, compelling analyses of the tension between the ‘social model’ of disability and the material details of impairment; of identity politics and unstable identities; of capability rights and human interdependence; of disability and law, disability as masquerade, disability and sexuality, disability and democracy—they’re all here, in beautifully crafted and intellectually startling essays.
If a constituency is perceived to define rights claims for disabiliity accommodation” around individual medical conditions, then that group could be said to be self-serving and narcissistic — hardly the best climate in which to mount a social movement.
Disability Theory ‘s cover features a painting Pattern by Riva Lehrer in which the artist depicts herself lying on the grass, drawing with a lipstick an idealized outline of a naked woman’s body over her dress while looking at her face in a mirror.
According to philosophical realism, however, it is precisely because our identities are social constructs that they provide a great deal of information necessary to social analysis and activism. On behalf of which social body has a space been made accessible? What difference to human rights would it make if we were to treat fragility, vulnerability, and disability as central to the human condition, if we were to see disability as a positive, critical concept useful to define the shared need among all people for the protection of human rights?
The bottom line for Siebers is that the most synthetic critiques of identity — the ones on which much current disability in the humanities is being written — tend to reinscribe the idea of an able-bodied standard, even while undermining the authority of some single identity position. Clear, cogent, compelling analyses of the tension between the ‘social model’ of disability and the material details of impairment; of identity politics and unstable identities; of capability rights and human interdependence; of disability and law, disability as masquerade, disability and sexuality, disability and democracythey’re all here, in beautifully crafted and intellectually startling essays.
Human society depends upon people benefiting from goods and services that no one person can create alone. His concern is not simply for a more inclusive meaning of disability but an awareness that unless we have an inclusive definition of disability, it will continue to be seen as a sign of weakness, pathos, or injury instead of a condition that impacts all of us.
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Tobin Siebers, Disability Theory | Davidson | Disability Studies Quarterly
It hinges on critical analysis of the ideological differences between poststructuralist and realist approaches to disability, and to identity politics more generally. He concludes that the only way tgeory ensure human rights for disabled people is to represent disability not as an individual calamity, but as the common inheritance of all human beings whose bodies are frail and vulnerable, and who depend upon one another, throughout their lives, for protection and support. This position offers Siebers a chance to attend to complex embodiment in specific cases Deaf persons differ fundamentally from people in wheelchairs in their attitudes about disability; people with chronic illness differ from people with spinal injuries, etc.
Siebers has written a powerful manifesto that calls theory to account and forces readers to dixability beyond our comfort zones. Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Siebefs Commons Attribution 3.
An Unholy Crusade Person-first language: Social constructions have a constant impact on the lives of human beings — an impact that we can analyze, work siebrrs or against, and change.
At the same time, he advances the emerging field of disability studies by putting its core issues into contact with signal thinkers in cultural studies, literary theory, queer theory, gender studies, and critical race theory. This latter tendency, what Mitchell and Snyder in an earlier book call “narrative prosthesis,” is now subjected to ethical and philosophical critique that posits a realist ethos grounded in a revitalized identity politics. It is targeted toward readers already well versed in disability studies and critical theory, and its complex discussions of very particular aspects of sisability experience operate at the highest theoretical levels.
In construing identity as social theory, Siebers moves beyond strong social constructionism into philosophical realism in a way that is very promising for both academic theory and on-the-ground activism.
Siebers criticizes the ways that Michel Foucault’s theory of the docile body and bio-power have been used as an all-purpose definition of how thelry with disability are medicalized. Siebers is particularly good on the problem of “passing” in which the person with a disability must negotiate the door to the medical closet, opening it enough to expose one’s disability to a skeptical able-bodied public or else closing the door in order not to offend anyone.
I could not agree more. Nimble six-footers, with an intuitive sense of dark spaces, acute hearing, and a love of staircases do. And so we must ask the questions: