Whose Life Is It Anyway? Disabled Life Stories in Post-reform China
The representation of disabled people in all forms of cultural production has been shown in the Western context to have a history that closely reflects ideological changes in the perception of not just the body, but also of individuality and social relations.1 This chapter turns our attention to the production of life stories of and by disabled people in China to demonstrate how such ideological shifts, particularly with regard to the latter two notions of individuality and social relations, are revealed and experienced in a very different cultural context. I consider here the role and motives of the Chinese state in both compiling biographical narratives about disabled people and publicising certain autobiographies written by disabled people, and demonstrate the often more creative and authoritative ways in which disabled people have begun to tell the stories of their lives and experiences as they explore the possibilities of new genres and develop new ways of engaging with their audiences.
KeywordsDisable People Life Story Cultural Revolution Disability Study Life Narrative
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.Sharon L. Snyder et al., eds., Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities (New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2002), 3.Google Scholar
- 2.G. Thomas Couser, Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability and Life Writing (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997), 4.Google Scholar
- 5.Anne Hunsaker Hawkins, Reconstructing Illness: Studies in Pathography (West Lafayette: Pur dine University Press, 1993), 3.Google Scholar
- 6.Hermione Lee, Body Parts: Essays in Life-writing (London: Chatto and Windus, 2005), 4.Google Scholar
- 11.Couser, Recovering Bodies, 4–6. Yet, misrepresentation can just as easily occur here, too, as demonstrated by Hevey in his examination of the tenebrous role photography has played in the construction of disabled identities; see David Hevey, Creatures Time Forgot: Photography and Disability Imagery (New York: Routledge, 1992).Google Scholar