Disability Space is Our Space

planet of the blind

One long held view in disability studies is that the industrial revolution and factory labor created disability. Bodies had to fit the factories. Broken bodies were useless. Enter asylums for warehousing the cripples.

The biggest problem with this is its essentialism. Bodies drift in and out of public space, or to put it another way, whatever we mean by private space was always disabled. Maternity space, death bed space, sick room space, blind space, deaf space, lame space, autistic spaces—all were nearly permanent, atavistic, dating back to the origins of humankind. Reading the ancient genome we see astonishing numbers of disabled. They were our forebears. Our brothers and sisters. They lived together. Personal space, tribal space, was always disability space.

This means that industrial space, capitalist space is a perversion of human geography in which the disabled are stigmatized. If there could be a slogan for this it would be: “Don’t stay home with your crippled brother/mother/father/sister….come on down to the factory and throw away your heart for money.” Another way to say it is: “Novelty beats traditional suffering.”

You can get away with a view like this if you believe in the accumulation of capital.
You can get away with a view like this if you believe in Marx.

You cannot get away with “novelty beats traditional suffering” if you acknowledge suffering.

The man from Porlock is here. My doorbell is ringing.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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