A History of Disability by Henri-Jacques Stiker, William Sayers

By Henri-Jacques Stiker, William Sayers

The expanding numbers of students, policy-makers, and political activists who're all for questions of actual and cognitive incapacity will warmly welcome Henri-Jacques Stiker's publication, the 1st to try to supply a framework for reading incapacity in the course of the a while. released in 1997 in France as Corps infirmes et soci?t?s and to be had now in a great English translation, the booklet strains the background of western cultural responses to incapacity, from precedent days to the current. during this quantity, Stiker examines a basic factor in modern Western discourse on incapacity: the cultural assumption that equality/sameness/similarity is often wanted by way of these in society. He highlights the results of this type of approach, illustrating the intolerance of range and individualism that arises from putting such value on equality. Importantly, Stiker doesn't hesitate to say his personal stance at the concerns he discusses: that distinction is not just appropriate, yet that it truly is fascinating, that it is crucial. the writer is going past anecdotal historical past to traverse a bit identified background, penetrating to the center of collective attitudes and reflecting on components of coverage. The sweep is vast; from a rereading and reinterpretation of the Oedipus delusion to present laws relating to disablity, he proposes an analytical historical past that demonstrates how societies demonstrate themselves via their attitudes in the direction of incapacity, from time to time in unforeseen methods, because the learn of element is usually the simplest access into the entire of a tradition. The booklet can be of curiosity to students of incapacity, historians, social scientists, cultural anthropologists, and people who are intrigued by means of the function that tradition performs within the improvement of language and proposal surrounding the disabled. Henri-Jacques Stiker is Director of study and member of the dept of the historical past and Civilization of Western Societies, college of Paris VII.

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Jacob's lameness, subsequent to his struggle, is the mark of a very special situation. Yet the signification of this affliction may illuminate biblical mentality as concerns disability. Let us examine just how, by unraveling the weave of the text. Jacob, who has remained alone, wrestles long through the night with an anonymous being who dislocates his hip. He is victorious, and his adversary seeks to flee, but Jacob imposes a contract: he must bless Jacob in return for his release. Jacob receives a new name, while his opponent remains nameless.

The Introduction 17 study of everything that we could call the marginalized allows us to bring out previously ignored or neglected dimensions of that society. 12 That is, they testify not so much to where society is going as to the tensions that are resident in it. They do not constitute a model, but they may provide illumination. At a minimum (but in fact often achieving much more) they ask this question: what sort of person is acknowledged as normal in each society? It is only at the cost of this research that we may have a serious hope of discriminating and of acquiring the means to effect choice.

The sacred is quite limited, and God is too much an Other: instead, the sphere of the human, in particular the ethical sphere, is opened. This is evident under another aspect as well. Defect is linked to sin-directly, for the Jewish religious con- science of the time. This is illustrated in the Pharisees' question to Jesus concerning a blind man: "Who sinned? " Is it wholly this tie between impairment and sin that drives the cultic interdiction? The defect linked to sin signifies that the affliction is to be associated with man and not with God.

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