In Brilliant Imperfection Eli Clare uses memoir, history, and critical analysis to explore cure—the deeply held belief that body-minds considered broken need to be fixed. Cure serves many purposes. It saves lives, manipulates lives, and prioritizes some lives over others. It provides comfort, makes profits, justifies violence, and promises resolution to body-mind loss. Clare grapples with this knot of contradictions, maintaining that neither an anti-cure politics nor a pro-cure worldview can account for the messy, complex relationships we have with our body-minds. The stories he tells range widely, stretching from disability stereotypes to weight loss surgery, gender transition to skin lightening creams. At each turn, Clare weaves race, disability, sexuality, class, and gender together, insisting on the nonnegotiable value of body-mind difference. Into this mix, he adds environmental politics, thinking about ecosystem loss and restoration as a way of delving more deeply into cure. Ultimately Brilliant Imperfection reveals cure to be an ideology grounded in the twin notions of normal and natural, slippery and powerful, necessary and damaging all at the same time.
Drawing on memoir, history, and theory, Eli Clare complicates the understanding of cure, seeing it as an ideology that serves contradictory purposes from saving lives to social control while critiquing cure rhetoric and the drive to cure disabled people through an insistence of the value of disability."
First published in 1999, the groundbreaking Exile and Pride is essential to the history and future of disability politics. Eli Clare's revelatory writing about his experiences as a white disabled genderqueer activist/writer established him as one of the leading writers on the intersections of queerness and disability and permanently changed the landscape of disability politics and queer liberation. With a poet's devotion to truth and an activist's demand for justice, Clare deftly unspools the multiple histories from which our ever-evolving sense of self unfolds. His essays weave together memoir, history, and political thinking to explore meanings and experiences of home: home as place, community, bodies, identity, and activism. Here readers will find an intersectional framework for understanding how we actually live with the daily hydraulics of oppression, power, and resistance. At the root of Clare's exploration of environmental destruction and capitalism, sexuality and institutional violence, gender and the body politic, is a call for social justice movements that are truly accessible to everyone. With heart and hammer, Exile and Pride pries open a window onto a world where our whole selves, in all their complexity, can be realized, loved, and embraced.
A collection of poetry and prose, The Marrow's Telling spans fifteen years, exploring how bodies carry history and identity over time. Embracing contradiction and repetition, this work maps itself around embodied experiences of disability, race, gender transgression and transition, family violence, and sexuality.
In Feminist, Queer, Crip Alison Kafer imagines a different future for disability and disabled bodies. Challenging the ways in which ideas about the future and time have been deployed in the service of compulsory able-bodiedness and able-mindedness, Kafer rejects the idea of disability as a pre-determined limit. She juxtaposes theories, movements, and identities such as environmental justice, reproductive justice, cyborg theory, transgender politics, and disability that are typically discussed in isolation and envisions new possibilities for crip futures and feminist/queer/crip alliances. This bold book goes against the grain of normalization and promotes a political framework for a more just world.
Rod Michalko launches into this book asking why disabled people are still feared, still regarded as useless or unfit to live, not yet welcome in society? Michalko challenges us to come to grips with the social meanings attached to disability and the body that is not "normal." Michalko's analysis draws from his own understanding of blindness and narratives by other disabled people. Connecting lived experience with social theory, he shows the consistent exclusion of disabled people from the common understandings of humanity and what constitutes the good life. He offers new insight into what suffering a disability means to individuals as well as to the polity as a whole. He shows how disability can teach society about itself, about its determination of what is normal and who belongs. Guiding us to a new understanding of how disability, difference, and suffering are related, this book enables us to choose disability as a social identity and a collective political issue. The difference that disability makes can be valuable and worthwhile, but only if we choose to make it so. Author note: Rod Michalko is Associate Professor of Sociology at St. Francis Xavier University. He is the author of The Mystery of the Eye and the Shadow of Blindness (1998) and The Two- in-One: Walking with Smokie, Walking with Blindness (Temple, 1999).
In a challenge to current thinking about cognitive impairment, this book explores what it means to treat people with intellectual disabilities in an ethical manner. Reassessing philosophical views of intellectual disability, Licia Carlson shows how we can affirm the dignity and worth of intellectually disabled people first by ending comparisons to nonhuman animals and then by confronting our fears and discomforts. Carlson presents the complex history of ideas about cognitive disability, the treatment of intellectually disabled people, and social and cultural reactions to them. Sensitive and clearly argued, this book offers new insights on recent trends in disability studies and philosophy.
In Curative Violence Eunjung Kim examines what the social and material investment in curing illnesses and disabilities tells us about the relationship between disability and Korean nationalism. Kim uses the concept of curative violence to question the representation of cure as a universal good and to understand how nonmedical and medical cures come with violent effects that are not only symbolic but also physical. Writing disability theory in a transnational context, Kim tracks the shifts from the 1930s to the present in the ways that disabled bodies and narratives of cure have been represented in Korean folktales, novels, visual culture, media accounts, policies, and activism. Whether analyzing eugenics, the management of Hansen's disease, discourses on disabled people's sexuality, violence against disabled women, or rethinking the use of disabled people as a metaphor for life under Japanese colonial rule or under the U.S. military occupation, Kim shows how the possibility of life with disability that is free from violence depends on the creation of a space and time where cure is seen as a negotiation rather than a necessity.
Contends that disability is a central but misunderstood element of global austerity politics. Broadly attentive to the political and economic shifts of the last several decades, Robert McRuer asks how disability activists, artists and social movements generate change and resist the dominant forms of globalization in an age of austerity, or “crip times.” Throughout Crip Times, McRuer considers how transnational queer disability theory and culture—activism, blogs, art, photography, literature, and performance—provide important and generative sites for both contesting austerity politics and imagining alternatives. The book engages various cultural flashpoints, including the spectacle surrounding the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; the murder trial of South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius; the photography of Brazilian artist Livia Radwanski which documents the gentrification of Colonia Roma in Mexico City; the defiance of Chilean students demanding a free and accessible education for all; the sculpture and performance of UK artist Liz Crow; and the problematic rhetoric of “aspiration” dependent upon both able-bodied and disabled figurations that emerged in Thatcher’s England. Crip Times asserts that disabled people themselves are demanding that disability be central to our understanding of political economy and uneven development and suggests that, in some locations, their demand for disability justice is starting to register. Ultimately, McRuer argues that a politics of austerity will always generate the compulsion to fortify borders and to separate a narrowly defined “us” in need of protection from “them.”
The world is in a terrible mess. It is toxic, irradiated, and full of injustice. Aiming to stand aside from the mess can produce a seemingly satisfying self-righteousness in the scant moments we achieve it, but since it is ultimately impossible, individual purity will always disappoint. Might it be better to understand complexity and, indeed, our own complicity in much of what we think of as bad, as fundamental to our lives? Against Purity argues that the only answer—if we are to have any hope of tackling the past, present, and future of colonialism, disease, pollution, and climate change—is a resounding yes. Proposing a powerful new conception of social movements as custodians for the past and incubators for liberated futures, Against Purity undertakes an analysis that draws on theories of race, disability, gender, and animal ethics as a foundation for an innovative approach to the politics and ethics of responding to systemic problems. Being against purity means that there is no primordial state we can recover, no Eden we have desecrated, no pretoxic body we might uncover through enough chia seeds and kombucha. There is no preracial state we could access, no erasing histories of slavery, forced labor, colonialism, genocide, and their concomitant responsibilities and requirements. There is no food we can eat, clothes we can buy, or energy we can use without deepening our ties to complex webbings of suffering. So, what happens if we start from there? Alexis Shotwell shows the importance of critical memory practices to addressing the full implications of living on colonized land; how activism led to the official reclassification of AIDS; why we might worry about studying amphibians when we try to fight industrial contamination; and that we are all affected by nuclear reactor meltdowns. The slate has never been clean, she reminds us, and we can’t wipe off the surface to start fresh—there’s no fresh to start. But, Shotwell argues, hope found in a kind of distributed ethics, in collective activist work, and in speculative fiction writing for gender and disability liberation that opens new futures.