Embodied Marginalities: Disability, Citizenship, and Space in Highland Ecuador
AuthorRattray, Nicholas Anthony
AdvisorShaw, Susan J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 01-May-2014
AbstractThis dissertation critically explores the governance of disability, social marginalization, and spatial exclusion in highland Ecuador. Since the 1990s, disabled Ecuadorians have moved from a state of social neglect and physical isolation to wider societal participation, fueled in part by national campaigns aimed at promoting disability rights. Many have joined grassroots organizations through biosocial networks based on the collective identity of shared impairment. However, their incorporation into the labor market, educational systems, and public sphere has been uneven and impeded by underlying spatial and cultural barriers. Based on twelve months of ethnographic research I conducted among people with physical and visual disabilities in the city of Cuenca, this research analyzes narratives of disablement within the local disabled community. I focus on the consequences of living with embodied differences considered to be anomalous within environments designed for nondisabled citizens. The study extends current scholarship on the social context of disability to a Latin American country with significant ethnic and economic hierarchies, exploring disability as an important dimension of social stratification that is both produced and remedied by the state. In Ecuador, the social category of people with disabilities has emerged through historical processes and campaigns that emphasize the prevention of impairment and chronic disease, promotion of equal rights, and inclusive labor markets - all of which are part of a broader aspiration toward modernity. I argue that disability is often an overlooked but important, cross-cutting form of bodily and behavioral difference that creates multiple marginalities. Emphasizing social practices and structural dimensions of disability shifts the attention away from approaches that foreground individual, psychological, or medical aspects of disablement and instead contributes to wider anthropological understandings of disability as socially produced, constructed, managed and enacted. In analyzing disability as a cross-cutting category, this research reframes disability as contingent on local constructions of normativity, highlighting how bodies come to be recognized as "abled" or "disabled" within particular productions of space and systems of un/marked subjects.
Degree ProgramGraduate College