By ruling out questions of impairment from the social critique of disability, Disability Studies (DS) analyses establish a limit point in the field. Of course the setting of “limits” enables possibilities in multiple directions as well as fortifies boundaries of refusal. For instance, impairment (the biological conditions of an organism’s inefficient attachment to the world) becomes in DS simultaneously a productive refusal to interpret disabled bodies as inferior to non-disabled bodies (i.e. pathologized) and a bar to thinking through more active engagements with disability as materiality. Disability materiality such as conditions produced by ecological toxicities serve as active switch-points for creative corporeal navigations of the interaction between bodies and environments.
In fact in this paper we want to propose a more “lively” definition of disability materiality to existing definitions of impairment as limiting expressions of non-normative bodies. We have no useful ways of explaining disability as adaptation and it’s time we begin the process of theorizing more active ideas of materiality that extend existing ideas of disability beyond simplistic conceptions of socially rejected biologies made available by social constructivist thought.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Alaimo, S. 2010. Bodily natures: Science, the environment, and the material self. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Bennett, A. 2007. Robert McRuer’s Crip theory: Cultural signs of queerness and disability. Disability Studies Quarterly 27(4).
Berlant, L. 2007. Slow death (sovereignty, obesity, and lateral agency). Critical Inquiry 33(4): 754–780.
Chen, M.Y. 2012. Animacies: Biopolitics, racial mattering, and queer affect. Durham: Duke University Press.
Coole, D., and S. Frost. 2010. New materialisms: Ontology, agency, and politics. Durham: Duke University Press.
Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari. 1987. A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
dePackh, S. 2013. They want us to die: You wouldn’t believe how many hate people hate those of us with autism. Pittsburgh Gazette, April 7.
Erevelles, N. 2014. Crippin’ Jim Crow: Disability, dis-location, and the school-to-prison pipeline. In Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada, edited by L. Ben-Moshe, C. Chapman, and A. Carey, 81–99. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Floyd, K. 2009. The reification of desire: Towards a queer Marxism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Foucault, M. 2003. The birth of the clinic: An archaeology of medical perception. New York: Routledge.
Haraway, D.J. 1990. Primate visions: Gender, race, and nature in the world of modern science. New York: Routledge.
Kafer, A. 2013. Feminist queer crip. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Koshy, S. 2001. Morphing race into sexuality: Asian Americans and critical transformations of whiteness. Boundary 2 28(1): 153–194.
Mbembe, A. 2003. Necropolitics. Public Culture 15(1): 11–40.
Mitchell, D.T. (with Sharon L. Snyder). 2015. The biopolitics of disability: Neoliberalism, ablenationalism, and peripheral embodiment. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Patient. 2015. Oesophageal atresia. Last modified January 22. http://patient.info/doctor/oesophageal-atresia. Accessed June 27, 2014.
Puar, J. 2009. Prognosis time: Towards a geopolitics of affect, debility and capacity. Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 19(2): 161–172.
———. 2007. Terrorist assemblages: Homonationalism in queer times. Durham: Duke University Press.
About this article
Cite this article
Mitchell, D.T., Snyder, S.L. The Matter of Disability. Bioethical Inquiry 13, 487–492 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-016-9740-2
- Disability studies
- New materialism
- Non-normative embodiment
- Crip/queer bodies
- Agential matter