New Project: 13 the body

Hughes & Paterson argue in The Social Model of Disability and the Disappearing Body: Towards a Sociology of Impairment (2010) that the social model of disability has ignored the sociology of impairment and explore that subject form two theoretical perspectives (post-structuralism and phenomenology). Their paper does not suggest that the disability movement has ignored the experience of impairment, rather than while impairment is present in practice and in the narratives it remains theoretically embryonic.

They site two models that can begin to redress this deficit:

1) Post-structuralism and the Body. Here the authors explore how language and metaphor are the ways in which we make sense of bodily sensations and actions and by so doing Post-structuralists not only accept the above but take it further. They argue that somatic sensations themselves are discursively constructed. So impairment is fully cultural and the body is an outcome of social processes. So for example, if medical language produces impaired bodies, then it can be deconstructed.

2) Impairment and the Phenomenological Body: Disability is experienced through the body, just as impairment is experienced in terms of the personal and cultural narratives that help to constitute its meaning. Disability is, therefore, experienced from the perspective of impairment. One’s body is one’s window on the world. Eg the concept of `suffering’ can be seen from this perspective as being separate from the personal tragedy model of disability.

The problem with the post structuralist approach is that it loses the palpable body that it seeks to explain. The body becomes nothing more than the multiple significations that give it meaning. It also fails because it places too much significance on the language of impairment over its experience, However the phenomenological model was useful is widening the nature of impairment from one of physiological deficit to something that is also cultural. This made a connection with the aesthetics of impairment management where the body is seen to be a cultural map. E.g., Miflin shows this in Bodies of Subversion where woman use post mastectomy breast tattoos rather than reconstructive surgery and the transformation in the aesthetic of prosthetics by some that is distinct from any functional changes (De Oliveira Barata, 2014).

So I think I have found an answer to my problem that I do indeed need to include references to my body in my work but raises the question about what and how I should represent it as. Stephanie made some useful suggestions in response to my last post such as using the body to punctuate the main series of photos or photographing the body is if I was someone else. I will think about these as I begin to experiment.  


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
This entry was posted in Projects 13 and 14: My Face; My body and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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