Disability and The Inhuman

Presented at ‘The Inhuman Gaze and Perceiving Otherwise’, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, France, 6-9 June 2018. This is a work in progress and not for citation.


When presented with the term ‘inhuman’, I was drawn to consider how certain ways of being become associated with the inhuman, how this association is involved in the constitution of what is taken as properly human, and the deleterious effects for those who become associated with the inhuman. I’m going to address these topics in three stages. First, I’ll briefly sketch how common understandings of disability might be thought of as ‘dehumanising’. Next, I’ll outline why I think that appeals to the category of the human are inapt as a response to such dehumanization. Finally, I will point towards an alternative, positive sense of the inhuman.