Disability, Appearance, politics. A comment from theology
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Within western political culture an increasing emphasis has been placed on the anesthetization of life. One of the victims to this change is people with disability. People with disability now recognize a shift in political attitude. While change in “look” and “posture” earlier were tolerated as part of a human register of appearance, a shift of lifestyles and fashioned icons of beauty coupled with a logic of how citizens ought to be given status frame disability into a negative aesthetics of appearance. Since aesthetics and political discourse become more closely related and form presupposition for “aesthetic citizenship”, there is a need to think in new ways of how to contribute to a liberation from this kind of political suppression. From the perspective of the need for a social repair (Arendt), my contribution will first discuss how the politics of appearance frames disability negatively. Through considering the contributions of Rancière, Merléau-Ponty, Sartre, and Kearney I show how an understanding of disability reduced to a merely `negative ontology, can be contrasted with a philosophy of the negative that takes the negative as embodied possibility. In the last part of the essay I consider how the philosophy of negativity can change how we “judge” disability.
The Corporeal Turn. Cross-disciplinary reflections om embodiment. Stavanger 15-17 2010