This article examines the cultural history of amputation in the United States to account for the status of white male woundedness and abstract citizenship in our current neoliberal era. Using critical disability theory to reconsider Michel Foucault’s notion of biopower, the article offers the dichotomy of hypo/hyperhabilitation as a template for understanding the relationship between Lauren Berlant’s “slow death” thesis for underserved communities of color and the futuristic advance of prosthetic and reparative technologies for the privileged few. The symbolic excesses of the hyperhabilitated subject illuminate the ways in which the American New Right since the 1970s has portrayed white masculinity as a disabled embodiment relative to the admission of women and racial minorities into full citizenship. Hypohabilitated populations in turn are produced through neoliberal techniques of extraction and submitted to actuarial accounting while disappearing from the popular imaginary. The maintenance of white male identity in this matrix ironically depends on a fantasy act of self-amputation embodied especially in the eternal woundedness of Ronald Reagan.
H. N. Lukes; The Sovereignty of Subtraction: Hypo/Hyperhabilitation and the Cultural Politics of Amputation in America. Social Text 1 June 2015; 33 (2 (123)): 1–27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-2869098
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