In the neoliberal era, when human worth is measured by its relative utility within global consumer culture, selected disabled people have been able to gain entrance into late capitalist culture. The Biopolitics of Disability terms this phenomenon “ablenationalism” and asserts that “inclusion” becomes meaningful only if disability is recognized as providing modes of living that are alternatives to governing norms of productivity and independence. Thus, the book pushes beyond questions of impairment to explore how disability subjectivities create new forms of embodied knowledge and collective consciousness. The focus is on the emergence of new crip/queer subjectivities at work in disability arts, disability studies pedagogy, independent and mainstream disability cinema (e.g., Midnight Cowboy), internet-based medical user groups, anti-normative novels of embodiment (e.g., Richard Powers’s The Echo-Maker) and, finally, the labor of living in “non-productive” bodies within late capitalism.
Cover: “Vitruvian Man with CP” by Selene dePackh
“Finally, a comprehensive and riveting account of how biopolitics during the age of neoliberalism renders people with disabilities available for various facades of social inclusion and acceptance. Focusing on the conjuncture of nationalism, ableism and what they call the 'abled-disabled,' Mitchell and Snyder insistently demonstrate the geopolitical inflections of the tensions between social and medical models as well as universalist and accommodationist approaches. Disability Studies has needed this book for a long time. The authors boldly call for an ethics of peripheral embodiment that demands nothing less than situating disability as intrinsic rather than exceptional to our imaginaries and practices of social justice.”
—Jasbir Puar, Rutgers University
“The interweaving of disability, queer and critical race studies is deftly handled and raises acute questions about the nature and significance of exclusions, where the ablenationalism of the West serves to project crises onto the developing world whilst bolstering a ‘self-congratulatory modernity’ at home. For Mitchell it is the crip art of failure—‘the capacity of incapacity’—that signals other possibilities of resistance to neoliberalism. The book is provocative, engaging and above all necessary in demonstrating how disability studies is now central to critical cultural theory.”
—Margrit Shildrick, Linköping University, Sweden