The human right to social inclusion is not well secured by the state alone. Rather, communities must be welcoming and flexible, adjusting to the contributions and needs of persons with disabilities. Attending to the practice of placing boarders with mental illness in family homes in Geel, Belgium—which integrates persons with disabilities not only into the family, but also into the town—highlights the limits of a legalistic approach to human rights, as well as the benefits of a cultural studies approach to rights. By examining the cultural practice of Geel, this article shows that the work of care can create inclusive communities. Though care has its own weaknesses—it can create power asymmetries and facilitate paternalism—this risk is moderated by the practice of reciprocal care, where care is given and received by both boarders and families.


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pp. 285-301
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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