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Posthuman disability studies

Goodley, D and Lawthom, R and Runswick Cole, K (2014) Posthuman disability studies. Subjectivity, 7 (4). pp. 342-361. ISSN 1755-6341

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Abstract

This article explores the human through critical disability studies and the theories of Rosi Braidotti. We ask: What does it mean to be human in the twenty-first century and in what ways does disability enhance these meanings? In addressing this question we seek to work through entangled connections of nature, society, technology, medicine, biopower and culture to consider the extent to which the human might be an outdated phenomenon, replaced by Braidotti’s posthuman condition. We then introduce disability as a political category, an identity and a moment of relational ethics. Critical disability studies, we argue, are perfectly at ease with the posthuman because disability has always contravened the traditional classical humanist conception of what it means to be human. Disability also invites a critical analysis of the posthuman. We examine the ways in which disability and posthuman work together, enhancing and complicating one another in ways that raise important questions about the kinds of life and death we value. We consider three of Braidotti’s themes in relation to disability: (i) Life beyond the self: Rethinking enhancement; (ii) Life beyond the species: Rethinking animal; (iii) Life beyond death: Rethinking death. We conclude by advocating a posthuman disability studies that responds directly to contemporary complexities around the human while celebrating moments of difference and disruption.

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