Disability, as a differential of urban experience, is rarely integrated into the constitutive subjectivities of modern urban history. Despite the sophisticated theoretical and methodological innovations in the fields of urban history, cultural geography, and urban studies over the past three decades, the body that can see, hear, walk, and communicate normatively and/or without assistive technology—no matter how marginal its social or political status—remains consistently centered and remarkably unproblematized. This essay draws attention to this woeful lack of engagement and challenges scholars to confront key canonical definitions of urban modernity as fundamentally linked to the privileges of being nondisabled. The essay concludes with recommendations for “cripping” the spatialization of the city that might expand the historian's analytical repertoire, especially since urban modernity has typically relied upon architectural and technological spectacles of the visual, the auditory, and the mobile.
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David Serlin; On Walkers and Wheelchairs: Disabling the Narratives of Urban Modernity. Radical History Review 1 October 2012; 2012 (114): 19–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-1597988
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