Mobility, impairment and empowerment: Subverting normalising discourses
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractDeriving our understandings from a Foucauldian perspective, we argue that the mobile subject is not a natural, pre-social being. Rather, power relations structure our ability to choose and the choices we can make. One of the ways in which these paper relations are manifest is through the micro-politics of normalising discourses. Our concern in this study is to disrupt the normalising and naturalising discourses of mobility in order to reveal the impacts these have on the differently able body. First, the paper utilises fictional reverse narratives, combining the methods of Miner’s influential 1956 article “Body ritual among the Nacirema” (American Anthropologist 58: 3), with more recent work on the creation of “ethnographic fictions”. These narratives are designed to invert and subvert conventional assumptions about the processes of travel and the experiential dimension of quotidian mobility. The paper then explores the ways to which they serve to highlight the degree to which ableism underpins and permeates majority conceptualisation of travel processes. Through these narratives, space is made in which to unpack power relations and to consider the hegemony of the ‘normal’ body in mobility studies. Secondly, the paper applies this analysis to some wider issues in the verbal and visual languages associated with sustainable mobility models in current use, to consider the degree to which these are compatible with a socially sustainable and inclusive modelling of future mobility.
CitationWorking draft of research paper given at Mobility & Language / Mobilität & Sprache” conference at Universität Salzburg, Austria, 22-24 November 2013.
DescriptionDraft text only please do not cite without prior contact with corresponding author
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