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By Henri-Jacques Stiker, William Sayers

The expanding numbers of students, policy-makers, and political activists who're fascinated by questions of actual and cognitive incapacity will warmly welcome Henri-Jacques Stiker's publication, the 1st to try to supply a framework for interpreting incapacity during the a while. released in 1997 in France as Corps infirmes et soci?t?s and to be had now in an outstanding English translation, the e-book lines the heritage of western cultural responses to incapacity, from precedent days to the current. during this quantity, Stiker examines a primary factor in modern Western discourse on incapacity: the cultural assumption that equality/sameness/similarity is often wanted through these in society. He highlights the results of any such frame of mind, illustrating the intolerance of variety and individualism that arises from putting such significance on equality. Importantly, Stiker doesn't hesitate to say his personal stance at the concerns he discusses: that distinction is not just appropriate, yet that it truly is fascinating, that it is crucial. the writer is going past anecdotal historical past to traverse a bit identified heritage, penetrating to the guts of collective attitudes and reflecting on parts of coverage. The sweep is vast; from a rereading and reinterpretation of the Oedipus fantasy to present laws concerning disablity, he proposes an analytical heritage that demonstrates how societies display themselves via their attitudes in the direction of incapacity, every now and then in unforeseen methods, because the learn of element is frequently the simplest access into the entire of a tradition. The publication should be of curiosity to students of incapacity, historians, social scientists, cultural anthropologists, and people who are intrigued by means of the function that tradition performs within the improvement of language and notion surrounding the disabled. Henri-Jacques Stiker is Director of study and member of the dept of the heritage and Civilization of Western Societies, collage of Paris VII.

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There is no dis- ability, no disabled, outside precise social and cultural constructions; there is no attitude toward disability outside a series of societal refer- ences and constructs. Disability has not always been seen in the same way. If I made the foregoing personal remarks, it is not by virtue of a transhistorical view but as a function of a set of perceptions that live within me and come to me, more than I dominate and live within them. I, myself, cannot speak for the Chinese of the second century of our era, the Aztec of an earlier epoch, the African from the time of Jesus, or the caveman; I can only, modestly, try to understand (where possible) how these different persons were situated and, when asked, say what seem to be the consequences for me, for us, in our very limited present world.

It is our heart, that is, whatever determines the meaning of our actions, whatever gives direction to our existence, the place where we can be without lies or distortions, the inaugural point of our lives, that I address. Whatever you do, whichever battle you fight, whichever course of action you attempt, with what are you going to inform it all? The love of difference or the passion for similarity? The former-especially if it becomes socially contagious (through education, cultural action, political action)-leads to human life.

But this is fraught with consequences, for the whole Jewish system was erected on it. The reverse side of interdiction was a certain 34 A History of Disability integration. Exploding the prohibition makes necessary the creation of a new social system as well. Society has been destabilized. Jesus says explicitly that the sick, the disabled, the marginalized, are the first in the Kingdom of God. His affection for them is due to their closeness to God; he cites them as examples of faith and of grace.

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