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South Asia and Disability Studies

Redefining Boundaries and Extending Horizons


Edited By Shridevi Rao and Maya Kalyanpur

Incorporating scholarship that addresses the social, economic, cultural, and historical facets of the experience of disability in South Asia, this book presents the reader with a comprehensive, cogent, and nuanced view of the constructions of disability in this region. In doing so, it focuses on the lived experiences of people with disabilities and their families, analyzing such disabling barriers as poverty, caste, and other inequities that limit their access to education, employment, equity, and empowerment. It addresses the interpretations of disability within different South Asian contexts including policy, family, educational systems, films, and literary narratives. Situated in an interdisciplinary perspective that spans areas such as cultural studies, law, disability studies in education, sociology, and historiography, South Asia and Disability Studies presents a rich and complex understanding of the disability experience in South Asia. The organization of topics parallels the discourse in areas within disability studies such as identity construction, language, historical constructions of disability, and cultural representations of disability.
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Chapter 2: Charting the Landscape of Disability Studies in South Asia


The purpose of this chapter is twofold. First, it places the book within the larger context of the field of disability studies and the current conversations within this field. This is based on the belief that understanding the discourse within which this book is situated and the implications of this discourse is critical to appreciating the significance of the book. The book is based on the core principle underlying the field of disability studies; disability is a social and cultural construct. The chapter introduces the reader to the development of this core principle and the nuanced discourse that has emerged since the 1980s. It focuses on specific approaches/strands in particular that are of significance to understanding the social construction of disability in South Asia. Second, this chapter introduces the reader to disability studies and disability studies in education within the context of South Asia. Although relatively small compared to the larger field of disability studies, this area has a rich history that can be traced back to the early 1980s, when many scholars began to challenge the transfer of Western special education technology and special education to South Asia. This discourse provided an impetus for further exploring how disability is constructed within South Asia and the unique social, cultural, and historical contexts that frame the understandings of disability within this context. This chapter takes the reader through a history of the origins of the disability studies approach in South Asia and the insights that have emerged. It also addresses the...

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