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Practicing Disability Studies in Education

Acting Toward Social Change

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Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale

Practicing Disability Studies in Education: Acting Toward Social Change celebrates the diversity of contemporary work being developed by a range of scholars working within the field of Disability Studies in Education (DSE). The central idea of this volume is to share ways in which educators practice DSE in creative and eclectic ways in order to rethink, reframe, and reshape the current educational response to disability. Largely confined to the limitations of traditional educational discourse, this collective (and growing) group continues to push limits, break molds, assert the need for plurality, explore possibilities, move into the unknown, take chances, strategize to destabilize, and co-create new visions for what can be, instead of settling for what is. Much like jazz musicians who rely upon one another on stage to create music collectively, these featured scholars have been – and continue to – riff with one another in creating the growing body of DSE literature. In sum, this volume is DSE «at work.»
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2. “As a cripple, I swagger”: The Situated Body and Disability Studies in Education

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BETH A. FERRI

“If it is possible and pleasant for me and my kind to enter, the world will become a livelier place. You’ll see.”

—Mairs (1996b, p. 106)

Scholars of contemporary disability studies (DS) locate dis/abilities1 within structures of society rather than within the biology or essence of individuals. Such critical understandings of disability as a social and political construct implicitly build upon Beauvoir’s oft-cited “woman is made, not born” critique of biological determinism. In other words, the disabled body2 functions as a cultural text “made” within social relations of power and inscribed with meaning. Despite the fact that Beauvoir did not explicitly or adequately address disability, and although her writing (at least in translation)3 is peppered with ableist metaphors, several of her ideas about the body are particularly germane to disability studies in education (DSE).

In this paper, I highlight Nancy Mairs’4 writing, making connections to Beauvoir’s concept of situated embodiment to demonstrate how both authors conceive of the body as both situation and point of view. Privileging knowledge generated from lived/embodied experience is but one example of the many points of connections between Mairs and Beauvoir that have relevancy to DSE. With concepts such as la situation (situation) and l’expérience vécue (lived experience) (1989/1952, pp. 34–37), Beauvoir refuses essentialism and biological determinism and privileges alternative knowledge claims grounded in particular lived realities—themes also addressed by Mairs. ← 35 | 36 →

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