Acting Toward Social Change
Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale
2. “As a cripple, I swagger”: The Situated Body and Disability Studies in Education
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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