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Claiming Disability

Knowledge and Identity

Simi Linton

Publication Year: 1998

From public transportation and education to adequate access to buildings, the social impact of disability has been felt everywhere since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. And a remarkable groundswell of activism and critical literature has followed in this wake.

Claiming Disability is the first comprehensive examination of Disability Studies as a field of inquiry. Disability Studies is not simply about the variations that exist in human behavior, appearance, functioning, sensory acuity, and cognitive processing but the meaning we make of those variations. With vivid imagery and numerous examples, Simi Linton explores the divisions society creates—the normal versus the pathological, the competent citizen versus the ward of the state.

Map and manifesto, Claiming Disability overturns medicalized versions of disability and establishes disabled people and their allies as the rightful claimants to this territory.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii-xi

In the years and decades to come, inside academe and outside, "claiming disability" is sure to become one of the most politically sensitive endeavors a body can undertake. That's partly because the U.S. population will be gradually aging, and with age comes a certain vulnerability to the fleshy...

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pp. xiii-xv

My thoughts linger on all of the disabled women and men, and allies, who form my community, and rest on a number who have been invaluable in shaping this book: Barbara Waxman-Fiduccia, Corbett O'Toole, Marsha Saxton, Paul Longmore, Anthony Tussler, Adrienne Asch, Harlan Hahn, Steve Brown...

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pp. 1-7

It was, at one time, seamless. There were no disjunctures between the dominant cultural narrative of disability and the academic narrative. They supported and defended each other. But in the past twenty years, as the flaws in the civic response to disability have been exposed, as changing social structures and legislative...

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pp. 8-33

The present examination of disability has no need for the medical language of symptoms and diagnostic categories. Disability studies looks to different kinds of signifiers and the identification of different kinds of syndromes for its material. The elements of interest here are the linguistic conventions...

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pp. 34-70

It is in the formal and informal, the explicit and the tacit, the overt and the covert that society works to divide up the human community and oppress some of its members. The above example of public rules and private thoughts (revealed in the safety of anonymity) may not seem to have much force. Federal...

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pp. 71-116

The gates of the institutions and sheltered dwellings that have housed disabled people over the centuries have been opened. The critical gaze of our newly minted citizens, unaccounted for all these years, is now trained on the dominant narratives. Through their eyes, we see the replication and justification...

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pp. 117-131

As with many of the new interdisciplinary fields, creating the category "disability studies" didn't create the scholarship. Instead, the name organizes and circumscribes a knowledge base that explains the social and political nature of the ascribed category, disability. The formal establishment of the field...

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pp. 132-156

The border between what is considered disability studies and what is not is fixed at different points by different authors and researchers. Although it is unlikely that anyone would suggest that there be an absolute boundary, efforts to circumscribe the domain and to anticipate the consequences of limitless...

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pp. 157-183

Every year increasing numbers of students, both disabled and nondisabled, are entering college from primary and secondary schools where mainstreamed classrooms are common. Future incoming students will have been part of inclusive classrooms, where not only a few high-performing physically disabled...

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pp. 184-186

Covenants of the type Socrates described depend on both parties' agreeing to conform to social expectations, and depend on those witnessing the pact to suspend critical judgment. Socrates understood that sometimes the truth is kept secret in order not to upset the social order. The order rests...


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pp. 187-199


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pp. 201-203

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pp. 204

Simi Linton is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Counseling Programs at Hunter College-CUNY and teaches courses in the psychological foundations of education and in disability studies...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814765043
E-ISBN-10: 0814765041
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814751336
Print-ISBN-10: 0814751334

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 1998