By Henri-Jacques Stiker, William Sayers
The expanding numbers of students, policy-makers, and political activists who're serious about questions of actual and cognitive incapacity will warmly welcome Henri-Jacques Stiker's ebook, the 1st to aim to supply a framework for studying incapacity throughout the a long time. released in 1997 in France as Corps infirmes et soci?t?s and to be had now in an outstanding English translation, the publication strains the historical past of western cultural responses to incapacity, from precedent days to the current. during this quantity, Stiker examines a basic factor in modern Western discourse on incapacity: the cultural assumption that equality/sameness/similarity is often wanted by means of these in society. He highlights the implications of the sort of approach, illustrating the intolerance of range and individualism that arises from putting such significance on equality. Importantly, Stiker doesn't hesitate to say his personal stance at the matters he discusses: that distinction is not just appropriate, yet that it's fascinating, that it will be significant. the writer is going past anecdotal heritage to traverse a bit identified historical past, penetrating to the center of collective attitudes and reflecting on components of coverage. The sweep is extensive; from a rereading and reinterpretation of the Oedipus fantasy to present laws relating to disablity, he proposes an analytical background that demonstrates how societies display themselves via their attitudes in the direction of incapacity, every now and then in unforeseen methods, because the research of element is frequently the easiest access into the entire of a tradition. The ebook could be of curiosity to students of incapacity, historians, social scientists, cultural anthropologists, and people who are intrigued by means of the position that tradition performs within the improvement of language and concept surrounding the disabled. Henri-Jacques Stiker is Director of study and member of the dept of the background and Civilization of Western Societies, college of Paris VII.
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Extra info for A History of Disability
The defect, somatic and mental, dis- tances us too much from our reactions of conformity, from our love of the same. Is there a remedy for this? To begin with, let us admit the very primordial function that the disabled fill. Like the child for the adult, like woman for man (and vice versa), they are proof of the inadequacy of what we would like to see established as references and norm. They are the tear in our being that reveals its open-endedness, its incompleteness, its precari- ousness. Because of that, because of that difference, they can, like children and women, be considered expiatory victims, scapegoats.
But I do believe that it is rooted in the fear of the different,9 for we desire similarity, and, even more, we desire identicalness. Our desire to desire like others, to be and to have like others,1o the strength, almost instinctive, to appropri- ate and exploit another person, his desires or her goods, the enormous need to imitate, to engage unceasingly in pantomimes-all these old mechanisms are just so many secular, archaic barriers to accepting 10 A History of Disability what appears as monstrosity.
With the Gospels a com- pletely different system begins for the disabled. Their dignity, their right to partake fully of religious and social life, are recognized. But is misfortune any the more averted? It can no longer be warded offin the same way. A completely new form of integration-and of exclusion 36 A History of Disability has been introduced. In what follows it will be the sole principle of charity that we shall be dealing with: charity that must be understood here in its root sense, not in its commonplace sense, but in the sense of agape, disinterested love composed of goodwill and respect for equality, well summarized in the word fellowship.