Critical_Disability_Theory.pdf - Critical Disability Theory Gaze Theory and Disability Studies Just as \u201cegocentric\u201d means self-centred so

Critical_Disability_Theory.pdf - Critical Disability Theory...

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Critical Disability Theory Gaze Theory and Disability Studies Just as “egocentric” means self-centred, so “ocularcentric” means assuming that seeing is the only way to know stuff. Many common expressions come to mind, see and know, seeing is believing what you see is what you get, it’sall in the eyes of the beholder. ‘’Oh, I see,’’ actually means ‘’I totally understand’’, and when it comes to the world ‘’ Sight’’, insight, hindsight and foresight are more about knowing than seeing.Bolt (2014) explores the thesaurus definitions and similes for the word ‘’Blind’’. Only one entry gave the literal meaning of unable to see. Another dozen entries were more figurative, - such as blind alley, blind rage, blind to the consequences, where the import was less about physical sight impairment and more about concealment and even ignorance. This prompted me to do a similar exercise with my own thesaurus, researching the definitions and similes of the word ‘’See’’ the result was the same. A majority of the connotations were not so much about ‘’seeing with your eyes’’, but more about knowing and understanding with the mind, the intellect, the brain, physical vision and about intellect, knowledge, wisdom and intelligence (Longman Roget’s Thesaurus, 2010).I further noticed that, interestingly, a lot of discourse about knowing is about dominance and control! The very word ‘’understand’’ states that you have it under your feet, you are literally ‘’ on topit’’. You master it, you get it, grasp it, comprehend it, have it down pat, - you even ‘’ have a handle on it’’. This reinforces Bolt’s (2014) point, this hegemony of the eyes; this ocularnormatism is a dominant mind-set. It is especially relevant to the Gaze theory, where the act of looking can exert power and control, you are the ‘’captain’’ of ‘’all you survey’’.
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Goffman (1963) writes “stigmatization of others is most frequently through sight. Allport (1954) puts in this way, people learn the cues (clues) that identify their enemies mainly through staring and gazing.”Bolt (2014, p.95) develops this only as divalence but potentially aggression or even violation. The manner in which one looks at virtual data is key, looking down on, looking askance at, the dirty look, the judgemental stare, that renders the other person as ‘’other’’, ‘’ alien’’, beneath you, different to the point of being abnormal. (Thomson, 2009) Western society, up to the late 1960s saw disability as personal tragedy for individuals and as an expensive burden for society at large. Blindness, deafness, mental “abnormality”, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, downs syndrome were all addressed by segregation in special institutions. Attitudes changed gradually. After the Second World War, the League of Nations, later enlarged to become the United Nations focused attention on Human Rights. Activism by disabled veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars, followed by activism by and on behalf of disabled people in general led to a new consciousness and sensitivity.
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