Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 195–208 | Cite as

Re-imagining the (Dis)Abled Body

  • Cassandra Phillips


Disability imagery, whether photographs, posters, or verbal or written discourse, comprises multiple viewpoints or gazes, ranging from the impaired physical body to the disabling social environment. In some instances, photographic image and accompanying text combine to reinforce the notion of persons with disabilities as helpless and needy people. These conceptualizations not only emphasize obvious prejudices and limited thinking about persons with disabilities, but also illustrate the consequences: persons with disabilities tend to assimilate the oppressive images constructed by society. In order to create positive images of, for example, persons with brain injury, epilepsy or hemiplegia, we need to develop a disability consciousness that allows us to re-imagine (dis)ability in ways that value individual identity. In so doing, we raise critical questions about self and other.

disability images advertising 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Burgin, V. (1982). Photographic practice and theory. In V. Burgin (Ed.), Thinking photography (pp. 39–109). London: Macmillan Press.Google Scholar
  2. Burgin, V. (1986). The end of art theory: Criticism and postmodernity. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  3. Friere, P. (1983). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: The Continuum Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  4. Hevey, D. (1992). Creatures time forgot: Photography and disability imagery. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Longmore, P. K. (1997). Conspicuous contribution and American cultural dilemmas: Telethon rituals of cleansing and renewal. In D. T. Mitchell, & S. Snyder (Eds.), The body and physical difference: Discourses of disability (pp. 134–158). Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  6. Lonsdale, S. (1990). Women and disability. New York: St. Martin's Press.Google Scholar
  7. Peters, S. (1996). The politics of disability identity. In L. Barton (Ed.), Disability and society: Emerging issues and insights (pp. 215–234). New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  8. Sontag, S. (1982). A Susan Sontag reader. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.Google Scholar
  9. Sontag, S. (1991). The way we live now. New York: Noonday Press.Google Scholar
  10. Spence, J. (1986). Putting myself in the picture: A political, personal and photographic autobiography. Seattle, WA: Real Comet Press.Google Scholar
  11. Spence, J. (1995). Cultural sniping: The art of transgression. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Thompson, R. G. (1994). Redrawing the boundaries of feminist disability studies. Feminist Studies, 20, 583–595.Google Scholar
  13. Thompson, R. G. (1997). Extraordinary bodies: Figuring physical disability in American culture and literature. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cassandra Phillips

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations