Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher EducationSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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7. So-called postmodern disability studies contradicts this British philosophy by suggesting that the strict separation of impairment and disability is an illusion or a lie. The social model suggests the existence of both physical impairment and cultural disablement as engaged, yet independently sovereign or separate, truths. The postmodern model blurs the lines between the two. This philosophy interrogates the ways that bodies and cultures, biology and social structures—even texts—interact and cocreate one another. Much as Judith Butler has troubled the natural/cultural binary of sex and gander, this postmodern model has troubled the notion of natural bodies; the very idea of a body separate from culture. Judith Butler’s definition of a “partial” social construction of the body, from her introduction to Bodies That Matter, nicely distills this idea: “to claim that discourse is formative is not to claim that it originates, causes, or exhaustively composes that which is concedes; rather, it is to claim that there is no reference to a pure body which is not at the same time a further formation of that body” (5). Any reference to a body is also a formation of that body. In this way, every formation is a further metaphor—these metaphors, in referencing the “pure body,” may fortify it, while new metaphors might reform it.
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