Disabled people and culture

Creating inclusive global cultural policies

Authored by: Anne-Marie Callus , Amy Camilleri-Zahra

The Routledge Handbook of Global Cultural Policy

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138857827
eBook ISBN: 9781315718408
Adobe ISBN:


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Cultural policy is inevitably shaped by dominant cultural assumptions. In many cultures, disability is largely viewed negatively, with disabled people seen either as tragic figures rendered bitter or helpless through their circumstances or as heroes bravely overcoming the odds created by their impairments. Such representations are oppressive for disabled people and continue to propagate a disabling culture. However, culture can be a source of liberation or emancipation (Brown 2003). In fact, the politicisation of disability has prompted a new disability culture, which challenges long-held stereotypes and traditional representations of disability. Through the disability arts movement, disabled people have sought to produce a culture aimed at exploring a positive identity of disability whilst combating the dominant disablist culture (Swain and French 2000, Arts Council England 2003). Disability culture can thus be an agent of change and a means of promoting and validating disabled people’s own constructions of disability (Barnes and Mercer 2010).

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