Literary and Critical Theory Race and Disability
by
Dennis Tyler
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0021

Introduction

In recent years, a small but significant body of work has appeared addressing the intersections of race and disability and offering an analysis of how these concepts are mutually constitutive. The rise in scholarship on this topic is tied to the development of the field of disability studies, which, especially in the United States and in the humanities, has increasingly posited disability as what Thomson 1997 (cited under General Overviews) calls a “minority discourse.” Considering the intersections of race and disability have allowed scholars to uncover the constructions of disability and disease and the medical and legal constructions of race as well as to examine how these discourses are deeply embedded within matters concerning citizenship rights, public health, proper medical care, and the national body politic. The increased interest in race and disability, however, does not mean that this kind of interdisciplinary work has not been met with a few challenges. Providing an intersectional analysis of race and disability has often entailed putting the fields of disability studies and race studies in productive conversation, which has been difficult for three primary reasons. First, as Bell 2011 (cited under General Overviews) points out, early work in disability studies focused largely on white individuals and was produced by white scholars and activists. This emphasis on whiteness absent a sustained engagement with or examination of race and race theory has marginalized the experiences of people of color with disabilities. Second, this interdisciplinary work has been “discomforting,” as Mitchell and Snyder 2000 (cited under Literary Studies) argue largely because as “feminist, race, and sexuality studies sought to unmoor their identities from debilitating physical and cognitive associations, they inevitably positioned disability as the ‘real’ limitation from which they must escape” (p. 2). This distancing of other minority fields from disability is a significant historical issue with social, political, and material consequences. According to Jarman 2011 (cited under General Overviews), the need to reject false biomedical attitudes (such as susceptibility to disease and bodily degeneracy) associated with race, gender, sexuality, and poverty in some scholarship “has often left stigma around disability unchallenged—except by those specifically engaged in activism and in disability studies” (p. 9). Third, when examining two categories, one must inevitably deal with the problem of analogy, which can create a false separation and opposition between two categories. Despite these challenges, an intersectional analysis of race and disability is both significant and necessary, because it provides us with a framework for thinking about how disability is central to racial formation and how race affects the lives of people with disabilities. The majority of the scholarship on race and disability has focused primarily on blackness and disability. But there are also scholarly contributions that examine how disability influences Asian Americans and Native Americans, and that interrogate the intersections of disability, race, and ethnicity more broadly. All of this critical work has called attention to the ways that science, law, medicine, history, and literature engage race and disability. The steady increase of scholarship on race and disability suggests that interest in this subject will likely continue.

General Overviews

Thomson 1997 is a foundational text and serves as one of the earliest interrogations of race and disability in the field of disability studies. Thomson’s work aims to move disability “from the realm of medicine into that of political minorities, to recast it from a form of pathology to a form of ethnicity” (p. 6). In this sense, her book attempts to draw parallels between the stigmatization, ostracization, and cultural barriers experienced by people with disabilities and the homophobia, racism, and sexism experienced by queer-identified, racial minority, and female subjects. Baynton 2001 spotlights how the concept of disability has been used to justify discrimination and inequality against women, African Americans, and immigrants. Rowden 2009 is one of the earliest book-length monographs that focuses entirely on race and disability (specifically on African Americans and blindness). Erevelles and Minear 2010 rely on intersectionality to examine how race, class, gender, and disability are mutually constitutive, while Jarman 2011 pays close attention to the intersections of race and mental health. A few special issues and collected essays have appeared on race and disability and serve as incredibly useful resources: James and Wu 2006 provide an explicit exploration of the intersections of race, ethnicity and disability; Bell 2011 focuses specifically on the intersections of blackness and disability in literature, photography, film, and music; and Senier and Barker 2013 is a special issue on disability and indigeneity, a topic that is often overlooked.

  • Baynton, Douglas C. “Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History.” In The New Disability History: American Perspectives. Edited by Paul K. Longmore and Lauri Umansky, 33–57. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

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    Baynton’s examination of how disability gets deployed as a justification of inequality in the United States provides a useful historical background for the ways that disability intersects with gender, race, and sexuality in American history, and how it is often used as a tool of discrimination and exclusion.

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    • Bell, Christopher M., ed. Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. Germany: LIT Verlag, 2011.

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      This volume interrogates the various meanings and uses of blackness and disability, and it makes a significant scholarly contribution to the field of African American studies, which, as Bell observes, posits the black body in an ableist fashion, and disability studies, which focuses heavily on white people.

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      • Erevelles, Nirmala, and Andrea Minear. “Unspeakable Offenses: Untangling Race and Disability in Discourses of Intersectionality.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 4.2 (2010): 127–145.

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        Relying primarily on critical race feminist theory, Erevelles and Minear examine how legal, educational, and rehabilitational institutions mark individuals at the intersections of race, gender, class, and disability as “non-citizens” and “(no)bodies” (p. 127).

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        • James, Jennifer C., and Cynthia Wu, eds. Special Issue: Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Literature: Intersections and Interventions. MELUS 31.3 (Fall 2006): 3–193.

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          This special issue provides an overview of how disability studies and ethnic studies can productively examine the ways in which “disability has always been racialized, gendered, and classed and how racial, gender, and class difference have been conceived of as ‘disability’” (p. 8).

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          • Jarman, Michelle. “Coming Up from Underground: Uneasy Dialogues at the Intersections of Race, Mental Illness, and Disability Studies.” In Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. Edited by Christopher M. Bell, 9–29. Munster: LIT Verlag, 2011.

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            Jarman focuses on the issue of black women and mental illness through her analysis of Bebe Moore Campbell’s novel 72-Hour Hold. The introductory paragraphs of her essay offer a useful gloss on the uneasy relationship between disability and race studies.

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            • Rowden, Terry. The Songs of Blind Folk: African American Musicians and the Cultures of Blindness. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009.

              DOI: 10.3998/mpub.232221Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              This is one of the earliest book-length, single-authored academic studies that concentrates exclusively on race and disability, focusing specifically on blind African American musicians.

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              • Senier, Siobhan, and Clare Barker, eds. “Disability and Indigeneity.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 7.2 (2013): 123–244.

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                Similar to Bell 2011, Senier and Barker explore how “indigenous studies is still too ableist and disability studies too white” (p. 125). The special issue also shows the particular and complicated ways that disability and illness intersect with the lives of indigenous people.

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                • Thomson, Rosemarie Garland. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

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                  Thomson’s work explores how discussions of disability, race, gender, and sexuality commingle to create figures of otherness from “raw materials of bodily variations” (p. 6). Thomson defamiliarizes identity categories of able-bodied and physically disabled.

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                  Primary Sources

                  The scholarship on race and disability has brought our attention to several primary sources, including fiction, nonfiction, and film. Included here is a sample of these sources.

                  Fiction

                  In their focus on the intersections of race and disability, several writers emphasize how disability is often the consequence of the intense violence of slavery, Jim Crow, war, or genocide. Butler 2003 (originally 1979), Campbell 2005, and Morrison 2004 (originally 1987) focus primarily on the disabling violence of slavery. Okada 1977 (originally 1957) and Silko 1992 (originally 1991) depict the injuries incurred during war and insurrection. Chesnutt 1993 (originally 1901) and Danticat 1998 spotlight the impact of race riots and genocide, respectively. Crane 1899 (originally 1898), Moraga 1994 (originally 1992), and Far 1995 pay close attention to the relationship between racism and disability, as well as highlight how some bodies are made vulnerable to disability and disease.

                  • Butler, Octavia E. Kindred. Boston: Beacon, 2003.

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                    Butler’s protagonist, Dana Franklin, loses her arm after her final escape from slavery. In an interview, Butler explained that Dana’s amputated arm is symbolic for the fact that antebellum “slavery didn’t leave people quite whole.” First published 1979.

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                    • Campbell, Bebe Moore. 72-Hour Hold. New York: Knopf, 2005.

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                      Campbell constructs mental illness as a form of slavery by invoking the metaphor of the Underground Railroad. For an analysis of the novel, see Jarman 2011 (cited under General Overviews).

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                      • Chesnutt, Charles W. The Marrow of Tradition. Edited and introduced by Eric J. Sundquist. New York: Penguin, 1993.

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                        Chesnutt’s Marrow offers not only a fictionalized account of the violent race riots in Wilmington, North Carolina, but also a critical investigation of the separate-but-equal doctrine. See Tyler 2010 (cited under Literary Studies) for an examination of Chesnutt’s fiction. First published 1901.

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                        • Crane, Stephen. The Monster and Other Stories. New York: Harper, 1899.

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                          After saving the life of his employer’s son (Jimmie) from a fire at the Trescott home, the African American coachman Henry Johnson becomes horribly disfigured. As a result, the town’s residents brand Henry a “monster.” However, Crane’s novella The Monster (1898) compels the reader to question what truly constitutes as monstrous: the deformed man or the townspeople’s behavior?

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                          • Danticat, Edwidge. The Farming of Bones. New York: Soho, 1998.

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                            This novel is Danticat’s fictionalized interpretation of the 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians ordered by the DR dictator, and it includes several representations of physical and emotional injuries.

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                            • Far, Sui Sin. Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings. Edited by Amy Ling and Annette White-Parks. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995.

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                              Several of Sui Sin Far’s stories and writings discuss disease and disability, but “The Chinese Lily” (1908), “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian” (1909), and “The Story of One White Woman Who Married a Chinese” (1910) are particularly relevant. See Sibara 2014 (cited under History, Medicine, and Law) for an analysis of Far’s writings.

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                              • Moraga, Cherríe. Heroes and Saints and Other Plays. Albuquerque, NM: West End, 1994.

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                                Published in 1992, Moraga’s play Heroes and Saints depicts the character Cerezita, a young woman with a head for her body. Moraga has claimed that environmental racism caused Cerezita’s disability. See Davies 2006 (cited under Cultural Studies, Identity Politics, Education, and Performance Studies) for more on Moraga’s play.

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                                • Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Vintage, 2004.

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                                  From Baby Suggs’s bad hip and Nan’s one arm to Sethe’s scarred back and Denver’s temporary deafness, disability and disfigurement are central to Morrison’s Beloved. First published 1987. For an analysis of the role of disability in Morrison’s novels, see Thomson 1997 (cited under General Overviews), and Adams 2001 and Quayson 2007 (cited under Literary Studies).

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                                  • Okada, John. No-No Boy. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1977.

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                                    The novel tells the story of Ichiro Yamada, who twice says no to serving in the armed forces and is consequently sentenced to a Japanese internment camp and federal prison. Unlike Ichiro, Kenji Kanno, one of Ichiro’s friends, joins the war and loses a leg in battle; the wound eventually kills him. First published 1957.

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                                    • Silko, Leslie Marmon. Almanac of the Dead. New York: Penguin, 1992.

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                                      Almanac is an apocalyptic racial warfare filled with violence, carnage, displacement, and ecological devastation. See Jarman 2006 (cited under Cultural Studies, Identity Politics, Education, and Performance Studies) for an analysis of the novel.

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                                      Nonfiction

                                      Included here is a selection of nonfiction sources. Some deal with the writer’s personal experience of disability or illness, while others either focus on caring for people with disabilities or explore disability as a performance or metaphor. Accad 2001 and Lorde 1997 (originally 1980) both offer accounts of the authors’ experiences with breast cancer, while Danquah 1998 discusses the author’s journey through depression. Taylor 1988 (originally 1902) examines Taylor’s experience caring for wounded soldiers. Craft and Craft 1999 (originally 1860) explore the performance of disability, and Anzaldúa 2012 (originally 1987) posits the border as a site of disability and difference.

                                      Film

                                      This list includes films (dramas, biopics, foreign films, and a TV miniseries) that feature a range of people of color with disabilities. Some of the characters have physical disabilities, and some have mental disabilities; a couple of the characters have congenital disabilities, while others have acquired ones. Taymor 2002 is a biopic about Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter who contracted polio at the age of six, and in an accident breaks her back; while Hackford 2004 tells the story of Ray Charles, a blues musician who went blind at the age of seven and later suffered from a heroin addiction. Lee 1989, Lee 2004, and Lee 2012 portray characters with mental disabilities. Singleton 1991; Ghobadi 2000; Tilman 2000; Chomsky, et al. 1977; and Shyamalan 2000 feature characters with a physical disability, an illness, or both.

                                      • Chomsky, Marvin J., John Erman, David Greene, and Gilbert Moses, dir. Roots. TV miniseries. ABC, 1977.

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                                        Based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel Roots, this miniseries tells the story of Kunta Kinte, who is sold into slavery and taken from Gambia, West Africa, to America. When the adult Kunta Kinte (John Amos) attempts to escape again, slave-catchers seize him and chop off about half his right foot in attempt to limit his ability to run away.

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                                        • Ghobadi, Bahman, dir. A Time for Drunken Horses. Shooting Gallery, 2000.

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                                          An Iranian film about a family trying to save its youngest member Madi (Madi Ekhtiar-dini), who is terminally ill.

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                                          • Hackford, Taylor, dir. Ray. Universal, 2004.

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                                            The story of the life and career of Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx), the legendary blues musician who rose to fame during the 1950s and 1960s and who was blind from the age of seven.

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                                            • Lee, Jae-han, dir. A Moment to Remember. CJ Entertainment, 2004.

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                                              A South Korean film based on the 2001 Japanese television drama Pure Soul. The film tells the story of a young couple’s (Jung Woo-sung and Son Ye-jin) enduring love, which gets tested when one of them suffers from a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease.

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                                              • Lee, Spike, dir. Do the Right Thing. Universal, 1989.

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                                                Lee’s film features Smiley (Roger Guenveur Smith), a young, mentally impaired man who tries to sell pictures of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. In a key scene, after the cops kill Radio Raheem and take him and Buggin’ Out away, Smiley mourns the death of Raheem.

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                                                • Lee, Quentin, dir. White Frog. Wentertainment, 2012.

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                                                  Nick Young (Booboo Stewart) is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome, and he idolizes his older brother (Harry Shum Jr.). When his brother dies in a tragic accident, Nick grieves over the loss of his brother while his parents (B. D. Wong and Joan Chen) attempt to preserve the memory of their firstborn, their “perfect son.”

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                                                  • Shyamalan, M. Night, dir. Unbreakable. Buena Vista, 2000.

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                                                    A neo-noir superhero drama that tells the story of how Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a black man born with a rare disease that causes his bones to break, meets David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a white man who slowly discovers he has superhuman powers. At the end, Elijah is committed to an institution for the criminally insane.

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                                                    • Singleton, John, dir. Boyz n the Hood. Columbia, 1991.

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                                                      The film centers around Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and the violence he encounters while growing up in Crenshaw. Sometimes that violence results in death (as demonstrated through the deaths of Ricky [Morris Chesnutt] and Doughboy [Ice Cube]), and sometimes it results in disability (as demonstrated through Chris [Redge Green], who is in a wheelchair as a result of a gunshot wound).

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                                                      • Taymor, Julie, dir. Frida. Miramax, 2002.

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                                                        The story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek). Kahlo has polio and, as a university student, is involved in a trolley accident in which a steel rod pierces her body and her back is broken.

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                                                        • Tilman, George, Jr., dir. Men of Honor. Fox, 2000.

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                                                          This film tells the story of Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.), the first African American and first amputee US Navy diver.

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                                                          Literary Studies

                                                          A number of literary scholars have written on the intersections of race and disability. Some studies, like Thomson 1997 and Adams 2001, have focused on the category of the freak and the process of “enfreakment.” Several other scholars have addressed blackness and disability in particular: Mollow 2006 analyzes black women’s health and emotional distress. Quayson 2007 discusses how disability affects the formal and aesthetic qualities of literature. James 2007 pays close attention to the literary genre of African American war literature to examine how this writing complicates debates about black embodiment and citizenship. Tyler 2010 examines the racialization of disability through a close analysis of 19th- and 20th-century American law and African American literature. Pickens 2014 extends the conversation via a comparative analysis of Arab American and African American literature, while Samuels 2014 frames an examination of race and disability within a larger discussion of modern methods of identification and the governability of individual bodies. Mitchell and Snyder 2000 consider disability as a “prevalent characteristic of narrative discourses” (p. 1).

                                                          • Adams, Rachel. Sideshow USA: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

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                                                            Adams’s analysis of the malleability of the category of freak—its reliance on performance, costume, staging, and audience participation—challenges the assumption that freak is an essence or inherent quality. Her study spotlights the ways in which race, disability, and gender are embedded into the sideshow.

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                                                            • James, Jennifer C. A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

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                                                              This book is a comprehensive study of African American war literature and highlights a significant point of contention: although slave narratives are filled with tales of disabled black bodies, it was imperative in post–Civil War African American literature that the body and mind “be portrayed as uninjured” (p. 15).

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                                                              • Mitchell, David T., and Sharon L. Snyder. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.

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                                                                Mitchell and Snyder put disability in conversation with other marked bodies by figuring disability as a “constructed category of discursive investment” (p. 2).

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                                                                • Mollow, Anna. “‘When Black Women Start Going on Prozac’: The Politics of Race, Gender, and Emotional Distress in Meri Nana-Ama Danquah’s Willow Weep for Me.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 31.3 (Fall 2006): 67–99.

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                                                                  Focusing on race, emotional distress, and mental health, Mollow argues that the multiple oppressions that black women face complicate their relationship to physical and mental impairment.

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                                                                  • Pickens, Therí A. New Body Politics: Narrating Arab and Black Identity in the Contemporary United States. New York: Routledge, 2014.

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                                                                    Articulating how Arab American and African American authors rely on the body’s fragility to make social and political commentary, Pickens discusses how the authors’ focus on everyday embodied experiences can offer a substantive critique of domestic and international politics, cultural mores, and the medical establishment.

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                                                                    • Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

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                                                                      Quayson argues that literature responds to the unease and panic invoked by people with disabilities through a process he terms “aesthetic nervousness.” Chapter 4 focuses on the work of Toni Morrison, and chapter 5 focuses on the work of Wole Soyinka.

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                                                                      • Samuels, Ellen. Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race. New York: New York University Press, 2014.

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                                                                        Samuels argues that an increased concern with the identifiability and governability of individual bodies led to an over-reliance on science as well as a compulsory use of fantasy to definitively identify and verify bodies via biology and what she calls “biocertification” (p. 9). Her chapter on Ellen Craft is especially relevant.

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                                                                        • Thomson, Rosemarie Garland. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

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                                                                          Focusing on the public lives of Baartman and Pastrana, chapter 3 highlights how race, gender, disability, and pathology interrelate in the process of enfreakment. In chapter 5, Thomson claims that the disabled black women in the work of Petry, Morrison, and Lorde “embody and transcend cultural subjugation” (p. 105).

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                                                                          • Tyler, Dennis. “Disability of Color: Figuring the Black Body in American Law, Literature, and Culture.” PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2010.

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                                                                            Tyler examines how disablement as experience and as discourse has shaped racial subjecthood for African Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries to understand fully the complexities of racial injury, oppression, and subjection during the eras of slavery and Jim Crow.

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                                                                            History, Medicine, and Law

                                                                            Apart from Schweik 2009 and Boster 2013, the sources in this section do not offer an explicit or sustained engagement with the field of disability studies. However, they do offer significant insights into the historical, scientific, legal, and political ways that race and disability intersect. Two of the scholars focusing on history and medicine pay special attention to the relationship between disability, sexuality, and reproduction: Gilman 1985 offers a useful overview of the history of medicine, race, and sexuality and how it relates to stereotypes of madness, while Roberts 1997 focuses on the surveillance of black women’s reproductive bodies during slavery and coerced sterilization in the 1970s. Other scholars of history and medicine focus on confinement, segregation, war, and empire: Metzl 2009 charts the close association between blackness, protest, and schizophrenia at a state hospital in Ionia, Michigan; Roberts 2009 links the politics of black health to racially segregated housing; Nelson 2011 uncovers the Black Panther Party’s health activism; Downs 2012 links the illness of freedpeople to the consequences of war; and Sibara 2014 claims that Sui Sin Far’s writings figure illness and disability as a by-product of imperialist violence committed against Chinese women in the North American empire.

                                                                            • Boster, Dea H. African American Slavery and Disability: Bodies, Property, and Power in the Antebellum South, 1800–1860. New York: Routledge, 2013.

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                                                                              Boster’s account of the ways in which disabled and nondisabled bodies influenced slavery in antebellum America spotlights the complicated and unique position of slaves with disabilities, who were sometimes devalued as property and sometimes allowed to escape bondage and oppression.

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                                                                              • Downs, Jim. Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering During the Civil War and Reconstruction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                Downs reveals the surprising cost of freedom: thousands of slaves became sick or died as a result of “unexpected problems caused by the exigencies of war and the massive dislocation triggered by emancipation” (p. 7).

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                                                                                • Gilman, Sander L. Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Race, Sexuality, and Madness. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                  Gilman provides a useful examination of the history of medicine and race, which has implications for the study of disability, though Gilman does not employ an explicit disability studies perspective.

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                                                                                  • Metzl, Jonathan M. The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease. Boston: Beacon, 2009.

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                                                                                    Metzl charts the clinical and political reasons that led doctors to diagnose the African Americans protestors at the Iona State Hospital for Criminally Insane.

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                                                                                    • Nelson, Alondra. Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

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                                                                                      Nelson shows how a politics of health and race were an indispensable part of the Black Panther Party’s activism and initiatives, including the Panthers’ network of neighborhood-based health clinics, their health initiatives with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and their sickle cell anemia campaign.

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                                                                                      • Roberts, Dorothy. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York: Pantheon Books, 1997.

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                                                                                        Shifting from the slave masters’ economic stake in the fertility of bonded women to government programs that sterilized thousands of poor black women in the late 1970s, Roberts exposes the systemic abuse of black women’s bodies.

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                                                                                        • Roberts, Samuel Kelton, Jr. Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

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                                                                                          This book takes up tuberculosis as its primary subject in order to show how the quality of black health is intimately tied to racial segregation, deleterious housing and working conditions, citizenship rights, and social control.

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                                                                                          • Schweik, Susan. The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                            Schweik examines the American “ugly laws,” municipal laws that targeted and disciplined the “unsightly beggar.” Her discussion of the laws’ ambiguity as well as their link to the history of segregation and profiling in the United States aligns disability with race, as it exposes both how bodies are categorized and regulated within the law.

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                                                                                            • Sibara, Jennifer Barager. “Disease, Disability, and the Alien Body in the Literature of Sui Sin Far.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. 39.1 (Spring 2014): 56–81.

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                                                                                              Sibara argues that Sui Sin Far’s writings counter the medical and scientific discourses that posited Chinese and other Asian immigrants as a danger to public health by exposing how racial inequality made Asian Americans particularly vulnerable to illness and disease.

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                                                                                              Cultural Studies, Identity Politics, Education, and Performance Studies

                                                                                              This scholarship clarifies and refines the meaning of disability for particular identity groups, using a number of different approaches. Davies 2006, McMillan 2015, and Sandahl 2004 focus on performance; Ramlow 2006 and Jarman 2006 focus on literature; Cole 2012 examines education; Cheu 2013 focuses on Disney films; and Minich 2014 analyzes literature, film, and visual art post-1980.

                                                                                              • Cheu, Johnson, ed. Diversity in Disney Films: Critical Essays on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality, and Disability. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013.

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                                                                                                This collection includes four sections: essays on race and ethnicity, on gender and sexuality, on disability, and on reimaginings and new visions. The section on race and ethnicity takes a close look at Disney’s representations of blacks, Latin Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans. The section on disability addresses identity politics, stereotypes, and representations of otherness in Disney films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Beauty and the Beast; it focuses on social constructions of disability rather than conceptualizing disability as a medical impairment.

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                                                                                                • Cole, Mike, ed. Education, Equality, and Human Rights: Issues of Gender, “Race,” Sexuality, Disability, and Social Class. 3d ed. London: Routledge, 2012.

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                                                                                                  This volume addresses issues of gender, “race,” sexuality, disability, and class in education. While none of the entries offer a sustained intersectional analysis of both race and disability, there are essays that focus on race and racism, and on disability equality, in the United Kingdom. Cole puts quotation marks around the term “race” because he considers it to be an invalid scientific concept.

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                                                                                                  • Davies, Telory W. “Race, Gender, and Disability: Cherríe Moraga’s Bodiless Head.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 21.1 (Fall 2006): 29–46.

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                                                                                                    Davies examines how Moraga’s use of disability-as-metaphor aligns with an understanding of race and gender issues in her play Heroes and Saints.

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                                                                                                    • Jarman, Michelle. “Exploring the World of the Different in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 31.3 (Fall 2006): 147–168.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/melus/31.3.147Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Jarman figures Silko’s novel as a critique of eugenic practices and discourses by privileging physical and cognitive impairment.

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                                                                                                      • McMillan, Uri. Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance. New York: New York University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                                        In his analysis of how black women artists transform themselves into art objects, McMillan examines the performances of disability in the lives of Joice Heth and fugitive slave Ellen Craft.

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                                                                                                        • Minich, Julie Avril. Accessible Citizenships: Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                          This book redefines the meaning of disability through its focus on Chicana/o studies and disability studies. Rather than rely on the assumption that disability signifies social decay or political crisis, Accessible Citizenships considers how disability can help forge a political community.

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                                                                                                          • Ramlow, Todd R. “Bodies in the Borderlands: Gloria Anzaldua’s and David Wojnarowicz’s Mobility Machines.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 31.3 (Fall 2006): 169–187.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/melus/31.3.169Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Ramlow theorizes the “borderlands” via physical disability and difference.

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                                                                                                            • Sandahl, Carrie. “Black Man, Blind Man: Disability Identity Politics and Performance.” Theater Journal 56 (2004): 579–602.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/tj.2004.0180Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Sandahl examines Lynn Manning’s autobiographical performance piece Weights. Her analysis underscores that Manning’s performance serves as representation of not only the points of convergence between disability and race but also the points of divergence.

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