Composing Disability: Diagnosis, Interrupted

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 13 (4):473-476 (2016)

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Writing is central both to the medical diagnostic codification of disability and to disabled people’s efforts to interrupt, complicate, or disrupt dominant medical narratives. This Symposium, like the George Washington University conference from which it takes its name, creates space for diverse modes and genres of claiming authority regarding diagnosis and its cultural and material effects. “Queer” and “crip” interrogations of diagnosis illuminate its status as a cultural phenomenon, embracing culturally disavowed embodiments and embodied experiences as tools for diagnosing inegalitarian social relations and opportunities for cultural interventions. This Symposium traces the workings of diagnostic normativity manifested in experiences such as “disruptive deafness,” unstable bodily materialities, pathologized grief and other forms of affective distress, and “surgical assemblages.” It presents a diverse array of compositions, articulated on each writer’s own terms, addressing a range of embodied experiences through multiple genres and voices, ranging from conversation transcript to scholarly essay, poetry, graphic memoir, and personal essay. Here, laypersons interrupt monologic medical diagnosis, claiming space to compose themselves. Together, the authors trace instances of corporeal “correction” back to the noxious agents, both environmental and political, that consistently breach the boundaries of corporeality.
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DOI 10.1007/s11673-016-9750-0
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