“Disability Theory is just the book we’ve been waiting for. Clear Tobin Siebers persuasively argues that disability studies transfigures basic. Disability Theory, Tobin Siebers (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, pages). Reviewed by Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson, Miami University of Ohio. Tobin Siebers’. “Disability Theoryis just the book we’ve been waiting for. Tobin Siebers in some of the major debates of the last thirty years in critical and cultural theory.

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Beginning with Volume 36, Issue Fisability. One of the most important things about this book is its discussion of the relations between sexuality and disability.

Disability Theory

For which social body is it inaccessible? Disability Theory ‘s cover features a painting Pattern by Riva Lehrer in which the artist depicts herself lying on the grass, drawing with a lipstick an idealized outline of a naked woman’s body over her dress while looking at her face in a mirror.

His work invites us to consider the transformation in human society that would occur if the reliance of a disabled people upon other human beings were considered neither a shameful nor a tragic turn of events, but a reminder that all human beings rely upon one another for protection, for sustenance, and for life itself.

This blog does not allow anonymous comments. Accessed October 14, How do we mend that rift?

Backlash Against the ADA. A volume in the series Corporealities: The ever-present fact of the fragility of human life is one that our culture turns from in its zeal to celebrate strength, youth, and able-bodiedness. The social theory inherent in disability identity, Siebers believes, can lead disabled people to realize that their personal suffering is shared and to join together to create safety, community, and justice Siebers Without cookies your experience may siwbers be seamless.

He is highly critical of adapting the identitarian position that reduces all persons with disabilities to a single class, but he also feels that without some sense of collective identity, claiming rights under federal and state protections will be difficult. As for social construction, Siebers recognizes theor although experience is constructed through social attitudes and prejudices, the identities produced within such conditions are “real” and valid for purposes of public policy, community disabiilty, and jurisprudence.


Siebers’ remarks on sexual surrogacy, architecture, and sexual pleasure are very important, especially given the powerful role of sexuality in cultural theory in which disability seldom makes an appearance. While Siebers does not specifically address the characterization of autism as an empathy disorder, he points out that the psychological literature is rife with the idea that disability and suffering nearly always considered synonymous render disabled people narcissistic; because of their impairments, the literature alleges, disabled people are self-absorbed, trapped in a world of their own, uninterested in anyone else, and unable to love Siebers And so we must ask the questions: That is small comfort for a person experiencing chronic pain or receiving dirty looks when boarding a bus or being denied access to a job, courtroom, sieebrs medical insurance.

And that’s all to the good. Siebers adapts their views to show that yes, siebets exists as a set of social constructions but once that reality is made it takes on a “shape, politics, and history that belongs to the realm of human action” He understands that sexuality does not define disability but that disability “defamiliarizes” attitudes towards sexuality in significant ways, expanding our notions of what sexual activity accommodates and what it does to break down barriers between privacy and public life.

It is a good example of Siebers’ “realist” position in action.

One way that he provides texture to his tbeory excursions is by introducing what he calls “dossiers” into his text at various points to interrupt and provide illustration for what he is saying at a local level. Volume 1 through Volume 20, no.

University of Michigan Press, What difference to human rights would it make if we were to treat fragility, vulnerability, and disability as central to the human condition, if we were to see disability as a positive, critical concept useful to define the shared need among all people for the protection of human rights? Passionate, thory debate is always welcome.

Siebers uses his own house as an example of the limits of “universal design” in addressing the needs of various kinds of disabled visability — himself included.

Strong social constructionism, according to Siebers, poses social identity as a construct, dissability tends to see it as a linguistic representation first and foremost, not as a mode of disabiliyy analysis and activism Siebers Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture. Do not insult the blogger or anyone who engages in discussion here.


Some bodies are included, and others excluded — not by nature, but by design.

Disability Theory

Thus, when disabled people rely upon others for care or assistance, it is considered a loss of dignity and a source of shame. Disability Theory Tobin Siebers Limited preview – The bottom line for Siebers is that the most synthetic critiques of identity — the ones on which much current disability in the humanities is being written — tend to reinscribe the idea of an able-bodied standard, even while undermining the authority of some single identity position.

And that’s all to the good. Siebers addresses the questions of how disability theory and other forms of critical theory can challenge and inform one another, how disability theory can move past the poststructuralist position that all experience is simply a linguistic construct and give voice to the embodied experience of disability, and how identity politics can move the disability rights movement forward in its struggle for universal access.

I’m a Disabled Person Identity and Hypocrisy: Perhaps his most powerful critique is reserved for the accusation of narcissism leveled against disabled persons whose “special needs” require business owners to bend over backwards to accommodate access that able bodied persons take for granted.

Until I discovered the disability community and found out that I was not alone in my experiences, I saw myself as similarly isolated and similarly vulnerable. In a particularly stunning section of the book, Siebers himself literally brings home his analysis by determining the nature of the social body that is welcome in his own house. Social constructions have a constant impact on the lives of human beings — an impact that we can analyze, work with or against, and change.

By looking at the body in this way, Siebers notes, one can easily see the lines of inclusion and exclusion drawn by the architects of architectural and social locations Siebers Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability.