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Disability and Depression

Abstract

Here, Ann Cvetkovich, interviewed by Abby Wilkerson, brings Cvetkovich’s influential cultural studies analysis of depression explicitly into conversation with disability studies. Cvetkovich understands “feeling bad” (a term she prefers to “depression”) as a defining affective state under neoliberalism. Drawing on a distinctive historical/cultural archive, she challenges the atomism of the neoliberal medical model that frames depression and affective distress more generally as the result of faulty brain chemistry—individual organisms gone awry. Instead, she traces these common experiences to sociopolitical phenomena ranging from current neoliberal demands for productivity as exemplified in university life, to histories of colonization, slavery, and displacement. The conversation considers the value of disability frameworks for understanding mental health diagnoses and the intersections of social institutions, bodily practices, and everyday affective life.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Especially valuable in extending my thinking have been Mel Chen (2012); Alison Kafer (2013); and Julie Avril Minich (2013).

  2. 2.

    On queer understandings of failure, see Heather Love (2007), and Judith (Jack) Halberstam (2011).

References

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Acknowledgments

We thank Shyama Rajendran for her care and diligence in producing a transcript of our conversation, as well as Jonathan Hsy and George Washington University’s Digital Humanities Institute, who provided generous support for this process.

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Correspondence to A. Cvetkovich.

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Cvetkovich, A., Wilkerson, A. Disability and Depression . Bioethical Inquiry 13, 497–503 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-016-9751-z

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Keywords

  • Depression
  • Public feeling
  • Disability
  • Queer
  • Neoliberalism
  • Affect