As one approach to the left of queer, the authors explore the juncture between queer studies and disability studies. Queer disability studies offers ways of conceptualizing the world as relationally complex, thus contributing additional pathways for the long project of rethinking justice in light of the critique of the liberal individual who is the bearer of rights. Debility, disability, care, labor, and value form a complex assemblage that shapes policies, bodies, and personhood. Putting disability and debility in relation to each other creates perverse sets of social relations that both constrain and produce queer potentialities, connecting affect and action in unexpected ways. A queer materialist focus on nonnormative labor opens the possibility of revaluing domestic work and caring labor generally as a first step to shifting relations between disabled people and those who do the work of care. Building social solidarity from the ground up requires both a queer theory of value and a geopolitical model of disability as vital components for queer materialism. Through a combination of embodied narrative and activist examples, the analysis frames the complexities of care and possibilities for a similarly complex coalitional politics.
Disability, Debility, and Caring Queerly
Christina Crosby, professor of English and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies at Wesleyan University, is the author most recently of A Body, Undone: Living On after Great Pain (2016), a memoir written in the wake of spinal cord injury, pain, and paralysis.
Janet R. Jakobsen is Claire Tow Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she has also served as director of the Center for Research on Women and dean for faculty diversity and development. She is the author of The Sex Obsession: Perversity and Possibility in American Politics (2020).
Christina Crosby, Janet R. Jakobsen; Disability, Debility, and Caring Queerly. Social Text 1 December 2020; 38 (4 (145)): 77–103. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-8680454
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