What were the cultural conditions for the development of the idea of a ‘normal’ body, and what have been the effects so that particular bodies became legible or readable as deviating from this canon? What expert-driven and technological modes of government of bodies did these readings make possible, establishing criteria for ‘normalcy’ and ‘disability’ or ‘abnormality’, and what have been their–mostly violent and disastrous–consequences in the form of eugenic or institutionalization projects? What modes of resistance and opposition needed to be invented to readdress the violence these ‘ableist’ readings enacted? How have these political struggles created the possibility of alternative versions of bodily diversity to become legible and impact in political, institutional, scientific and every day milieus, and what have been the promises and difficulties to do so? Searching to provide an insight into these vast cultural transformations from a Euro-American standpoint–although also reflecting on similar developments in the Global South–, this seminar wishes to unfold a crash course into the field of Critical Disability Studies.
In weekly reading seminars and undertaking a small study, students will be confronted with approaches leading to the cultural analysis of ‘ableism.’ Hence learning to develop a critical lens into different experiential and epistemic politics of disability or, more generally, bodily diversity: ranging from the genealogy of ‘medical-rehabilitative’ approaches to different forms of political and academic activism that have brought about alternative societal, scientific, institutional and material initiatives for bodily diversity to thrive, be appreciated and protected (e.g. disability rights’ identity and self-representational struggles around the motto “nothing about us without us”; the academic articulation of Disability Studies as a field of inquiry on manifold societal forms of disablement; approaches to the experiential articulation of interesting self-advocacy attempts such as that of the neurodiversity movement; or the vindication of bodily diversity of crip positionings), hence repopulating our scientific and political imaginations beyond normalcy and the ‘abled’ norm.