This article proposes a new theory of affordances that is developed through a critical disability and performance lens. Through parallels to be drawn between the creative space of aesthetic performance and the performance of everyday life lived with disability, this new theory situates affordances in the improvisatory space of performance, and introduces the notion of “micro-activist affordances” as a way to understand mundane acts of world-building that could emerge from encounters with a world of “disorienting affordances.” Experiencing disability is inherently disorienting. The environment, as years of disability activism have shown us, is built with a very limited conception of the human being in mind. But the environment can also be disorienting when experiencing bodily pain and chronic disease. I argue that disability, in all of its various manifestations, is experienced as the shrinking of the environment, and its readily available affordances. But, as I shall also argue, precisely at such moments of shrinking, something else happens. When the environment is narrowed down in its offerings, I propose that it is the creative space of performance (on or offstage) that opens up to make it afford otherwise. This very potential to invent affordances is precisely how I conceptualize everyday lives lived with disability as being analogous to the reimagined space of aesthetic performance and its reorientations.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.