Abstract/Details

Accessible futures? Disability, feminist and queer theory, and progressive politics


2005 2005

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Abstract (summary)

This dissertation traces how progressive political visions, from cyborg theory to ecofeminism to feminist utopian fiction, rely on a medical model of disability; depicting disability as an individual problem requiring medical, rather than political, solutions. I argue that these visions are characterized by a normalizing impulse, erasing or marginalizing bodies marked as defective, disabled, or deviant. Focusing on the United States from 1990 through 2004, I draw on a mixture of feminist, queer, and disability theories in my analysis of popular culture and theoretical discourse. Through my examination of the representation of disability and able-bodiedness in progressive politics, I situate disability squarely within the realm of the political. My intent is to contextualize the meanings typically attributed to disability, thereby positioning “disability” as a set of practices and associations that can be contested and transformed.

Chapter One traces cyborg theorists' tendency to present disability as a metaphor for hybrid bodies, a representation that assumes that disabled bodies exemplify the human/machine interface. This pervasive use of the disabled body as an illustration of cyborgism presents a medicalized image of disability and perpetuates ableist ideologies of wholeness, rendering the cyborg figure problematic for disability politics. In Chapter Two, I argue that ecofeminist political visions are often predicated on an “engagement with nature,” an experience that typically assumes a nondisabled body. I note in Chapter Three that representations of possible genetic futures are characterized by a debate over the appropriate use of technology: technological attempts to eliminate disability are met with widespread support because they are assumed to mark progress toward a better future, while refusals of such “healing” technology are condemned as backward and dystopic. What these three bodies of knowledge have in common is a failure to recognize disability as political and disabled people as political agents. In Chapter Four, I articulate an alternative political vision, a “politics of access” that counters this erasure of disability from the political. Building on the work of queer disability activists, I propose a politics that relishes disability and difference, a politics grounded in coalition work, one that is committed to both solidarity and dissent.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Womens studies;
American studies
Classification
0453: Womens studies
0323: American studies
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Cyborg; Disability; Feminist; Progressive politics; Queer theory
Title
Accessible futures? Disability, feminist and queer theory, and progressive politics
Author
Kafer, Alison
Number of pages
319
Publication year
2005
Degree date
2005
School code
0047
Source
DAI-A 66/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
0496927477, 9780496927470
Advisor
Samantrai, Ranu
University/institution
The Claremont Graduate University
University location
United States -- California
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3159642
ProQuest document ID
305006871
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/305006871
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