Civil Disabilities

Civil Disabilities: Citizenship, Membership, and Belonging

Nancy J. Hirschmann
Beth Linker
Rogers M. Smith
Mary L. Dudziak
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Civil Disabilities
    Book Description:

    An estimated one billion people around the globe live with a disability; this number grows exponentially when family members, friends, and care providers are included. Various countries and international organizations have attempted to guard against discrimination and secure basic human rights for those whose lives are affected by disability. Yet despite such attempts many disabled persons in the United States and throughout the world still face exclusion from full citizenship and membership in their respective societies. They are regularly denied employment, housing, health care, access to buildings, and the right to move freely in public spaces. At base, such discrimination reflects a tacit yet pervasive assumption that disabled persons do not belong in society.

    Civil Disabilitieschallenges such norms and practices, urging a reconceptualization of disability and citizenship to secure a rightful place for disabled persons in society. Essays from leading scholars in a diversity of fields offer critical perspectives on current citizenship studies, which still largely assume an ableist world. Placing historians in conversation with anthropologists, sociologists with literary critics, and musicologists with political scientists, this interdisciplinary volume presents a compelling case for reimagining citizenship that is more consistent, inclusive, and just, in both theory and practice. By placing disability front and center in academic and civic discourse,Civil Disabilitiestests the very notion of citizenship and transforms our understanding of disability and belonging.

    Contributors: Emily Abel, Douglas C. Baynton, Susan Burch, Allison C. Carey, Faye Ginsburg, Nancy J. Hirschmann, Hannah Joyner, Catherine Kudlick, Beth Linker, Alex Lubet, Rayna Rapp, Susan Schweik, Tobin Siebers, Lorella Terzi.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9053-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Disability, Citizenship, and Belonging: A Critical Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)
    Nancy J. Hirschmann and Beth Linker

    Although the study of citizenship has garnered significant scholarly attention in the past several de cades, disabled persons have been largely overlooked.¹ But as this volume demonstrates, disability is central to understanding citizenship.² In the United States, most of the work on disability and citizenship has happened on the ground—through the blood and sweat of disability activists—or in the courts, where legislation is interpreted into fact. A major category of the modern welfare state, disability has been fundamental to twentieth-century policy formation, health-care delivery, and, more recently, antidiscrimination laws. Disability has also, by turns, served as justification for...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Homer’s Odyssey: Multiple Disability and The Best Years of Our Lives
    (pp. 22-43)
    Susan M. Schweik

    “Multiple disabilities.” Sometimes the phrase stands in for what otherwise gets called “severe disability.” Always it indicates variety and combination. Usually it refers to qualities that are located in an individual body. My subject here is disability in representation, which is invariably a case of multiple disabilities. An impairment may be narrow and distinct. Think, say, of someone who has difficulty blinking. But disability never happens in the blink of an eye. Its effects are social, sustained, and intricate. Then, in the process of representation, from creation to reception, disability stories pile up and mix up; one story is brought...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Defect: A Selective Reinterpretation of American Immigration History
    (pp. 44-64)
    Douglas C. Baynton

    “Selection” is a fraught word for people with disabilities. Such terms as “prenatal selection,” “selective reproduction,” and “genetic selection” raise the specter of disability deselection based on normative assumptions about what constitutes a “good life” or “a life worth living.” Reproductive selection today is generally framed as a matter of individual choice (although some ethicists maintain that it is largely an illusion that such choices could exist apart from social norms and pressures),¹ but eugenicists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw social selection as an unalloyed good. They frankly advocated coercive methods, advanced normative assumptions as scientific...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Disremembered Past
    (pp. 65-82)
    Susan Burch and Hannah Joyner

    Historians remember. We try to “recapture the past” and hold those events “in mind for attention or consideration.”¹ Remembering can be, according to theOxford English Dictionary, “recall[ing] the memory of (a person) with some kind of feeling or intention.” It is through remembering that we as humans construct who we are and where we have come from. Historians have assisted that process by preserving and analyzing what is left of the past: the stories passed down to us in their entirety, as well as the fragments that help us rebuild what has been forgotten. The dictionary’s definition suggests that...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Integrating Disability, Transforming Disease History: Tuberculosis and Its Past
    (pp. 83-102)
    Beth Linker and Emily K. Abel

    Tuberculosis has a cherished, if still contested, place in medical history. Through a multitude of books and articles dating back over one hundred years, historians have debated the efficacy of biomedicine, the social welfare state, and systems of public health aimed at prevention. On one side of the debate stand the historians who see tuberculosis as a quintessential story of medical triumph. Selman Abraham Waksman, George J. Wherrett, Thomas M. Daniel, and Leonard G. Wilson speak of medical miracles, celebrating antibiotics and the demise of tuberculosis.¹ On the other side of the debate are those scholars who insist on seeing...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Screening Disabilities: Visual Fields, Public Culture, and the Atypical Mind in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 103-122)
    Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp

    Emily Kingsley’s pioneering work as a disability media activist inspired our chapter exploring images of disability in public culture as they shape claims to recognition beyond the strictly legal arena. In early twenty-first-century America, cultural and political understandings of people with disabilities cannot be grasped apart from the accelerating circulation of popular and medicalized media imagery. We are tracking an emergent phenomenon across a variety of locations that are off the map of mainstream media, where people with disabilities are virtually invisible.Sesame Street’s pioneering role in featuring children with disabilities since the 1970s is still the exception. Almost 20...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Social Confluence and Citizenship: A View from the Intersection of Music and Disability
    (pp. 123-142)
    Alex Lubet

    Among the most famous musicians with a disability was the great jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. When Reinhardt was in his teens, he was burned over much of his body, and the third and fourth fingers on his left hand became essentially immobile.¹ Although this forced Reinhardt to radically transform his technique and imposed some limitations, particularly on his ability to play chords, he nonetheless became one of the most important and influential jazz guitarists of all time.² This was possible only because of the broad interpretive latitudes that jazz permits. Jazz Artists are expected to be creative: to improvise, to...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Our Ancestors the Sighted: Making Blind People French and French People Blind, 1750–1991
    (pp. 143-164)
    Catherine Kudlick

    In 1991 the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris published an intriguing architecture book titledDes clés pour bâtir(Keys for Building).¹ Clearly, much effort and money had gone into its conceptualization, design, and production. Each of its sixty pages contains a combination of large print and Braille accompanied by masterful tactile illustrations depicting important architectural concepts, such as lintels, reinforced concrete, buttresses, white light, and numerous other terms too complex even for my top-of-the line French-English dictionary. The book has no preface but rather gets right down to business, as if every architecture book catered to people with...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Citizenship and the Family: Parents of Children with Disabilities, the Pursuit of Rights, and Paternalism
    (pp. 165-185)
    Allison C. Carey

    In 2007, “Ashley X” and her parents made headlines when the press revealed that Ashley was undergoing a series of surgical interventions, including estrogen therapy, hysterectomy, breast-bud removal, and appendectomy, intended to prevent her from growing and maturing physically. Ashley was six and a half years old and had been diagnosed with significant developmental disabilities when the course of medical interventions began. Her parents attempted to justify these interventions on the basis of an alignment of interests within the family: Ashley wanted to remain in her family home, they wanted her to be at home, and these surgeries would better...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Cognitive Disability, Capability Equality, and Citizenship
    (pp. 186-203)
    Lorella Terzi

    The status of people with disabilities as valued citizens and equal members of the community poses significant problems for political and moral philosophy, and in particular for liberal egalitarian theories of justice. In this chapter, I discuss how an innovative egalitarian perspective, the capability approach, provides important insights into the demands of disability on justice. In so doing, my contribution aims to situate issues of philosophical theory at the core of the debate on “citizenship,” “disability,” and “the individual.”

    Underpinned by the ideals of liberty and equality, liberal egalitarian theories of justice are primarily concerned with the just design of...

  13. CHAPTER 10 Invisible Disability: Seeing, Being, Power
    (pp. 204-222)
    Nancy J. Hirschmann

    When many people, particularly “able-bodied” ones, think of the word “disability,” they think of someone sitting in a wheelchair, or perhaps a blind person with a guide dog or white cane.¹ Perhaps they think of a poster child from the March of Dimes sporting metal leg braces and crutches, or an adult with cognitive impairment severe enough to be led around in a store by an aging parent or other supervisory adult. Disability is conceived as clearly demarcated from the “normal,” decidedly “other,” and highly visible.

    But many disabilities are those we cannot or do not see. I focus here...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Disability Trouble
    (pp. 223-236)
    Tobin Siebers

    My title is “Disability Trouble,” but my word choice is ironic because I intend to argue in support of disability identity in particular and identity politics in general, not against them. “Trouble” is the term of choice used to mark incoherent, dysfunctional, or imaginary identities, be they the fluid gender identities discussed by Judith Butler or the other troublesome identities collected under the rubric of diversity.¹ For example, thanks to new work in genetics, we now know, or think we do, apparently, that race no longer exists and that identity politics based on race has no real object. On both...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 237-290)
  16. List of Contributors
    (pp. 291-294)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 295-308)
    (pp. 309-309)