Situating Disability in the Anthropology of the Middle East

  • Citation: Sargent, Christine. “Situating Disability in the Anthropology of the Middle East.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 51, no. 1 (2019): 131–34.
    • Topics:
    • Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • Middle East
    • disability
    • human rights
    • anthropology
    • infrastructure

“If society doesn’t provide affordable options for our children,” explained Umm Fadi, the mother of a teenage boy with Down Syndrome named Fadi, “then they stay at home.” “And in the end,” she added, “the whole family becomes disabled” (muʿāq). Umm Fadi’s statement reinforces a central tenet of the prevailing social model of disability, a cornerstone of rights and policy development around the world. This model situates disability as the consequence of systemic exclusion and discrimination rather than individual bodily impairment. The anthropology of disability is an emerging field based on the premise that divergent bodies and minds are fundamental aspects of human difference and social life. Inevitably, difference is lived and made meaningful through the regimes of embodied knowledge and power that operate in a given historical moment.

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