Atypical Morphology and the Normative Limits of Ability and Function

  • Post Category:Draft Papers

Presented at ‘Theorizing the Body in Health and Medicine’, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands, 25-26 November 2015.

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This paper largely concerns grounding concepts that inform medical and social theories of impairment. It discusses impairment in relation to normal function, including its identification as a deviation from normal health. It then draws upon phenomenological concepts to develop an alternate account of embodiment, as always already dependent upon relations with things outside itself. It posits that ‘normal ability’ is consequently a socio-historical elaboration rather than an objectively existing state of affairs, and that the accompanying prioritisation of some modes of embodiment over others creates the phenomenon called disability. Finally, it outlines an alternative framework that eschews reference to transcendent norms for grounding in capacities and goals, however atypical, of embodied agents.

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