World Building, Citizenship, and Disability: The Strange World of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

  • Rosemarie Garland-ThomsonEmail author


A crucial challenge for critical disability studies is developing an argument for why disabled people should inhabit our democratic, shared public sphere. The ideological and material separation of citizens into worthy and unworthy based on physiological variations imagined as immutable differences is what I call eugenic world building. It is justified by the idea that social improvement and freedom of choice require eliminating devalued human traits in the interest of reducing human suffering, increasing life quality, and building a more desirable citizenry. I outline the logic of inclusive and eugenic world building, explain the role of the ‘normate’ in eugenic logic, and provide a critical disability studies reading of the 2005 novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and its 2010 film adaptation. I argue that the ways of being in the world we think of as disabilities must be understood as the natural variations, abilities, and limitations inherent in human embodiment. When this happens, disability will be understood not as a problem to be eliminated but, rather, as a valid way of being in the world that must be accommodated through a sustaining and sustainable environment designed to afford access for a wide range of human variations.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English and BioethicsEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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