THE POLITICS OF BODILY DISABILITY

Hennie Viviers

Abstract


Our bodies determine our social selves, our social location. We in turn are
determined by the constructed ideal or regulatory body, symbolizing society’s
ultimate values. It emerges from culture and in turn shapes and regulates the culture
that gave it its life. It often inhabits the (perfect) gods of society, ancient and
modern, and rules supreme, often to the point of tyranny as it vehemently upholds
the cherished fabric of society. If a society cherishes body wholeness then the
unwhole or disabled will be of almost no serious concern. This is true of ancient
societies where people with disabilities were outcast. Modern societies with their
focus on human rights are more humane and try to integrate the disabled into
ordinary mainstream life. But even here the notion of the “normal” regulatory body
stigmatizes the “abnormal,” the disabled, so that their acceptance is constantly
characterized by struggle. This kind of regulatory body needs to be deconstructed
and replaced by a new and more inclusive symbol of bodiliness, the last which
should at least resemble that all people are only temporarily abled.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/90-0-1068

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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