Seattle Disability and The Theory of Complex Embodiment Discussion Query – Assignment Help

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Study Guide: Tobin Siebers, “Disability and the Theory of Complex Embodiment”

This essay, like Du Bois’s and Foucault’s, is very fundamental to us in this class in laying out key concepts and definitions that will help us in our work throughout the quarter. It also articulates the epistemology (way of knowing) in which we are engaging by looking at the social construction of bodies, representations of bodies, and lived (embodied) experience. It thus lays out the “theory of complex embodiment” that undergirds every discussion we will have, and, hopefully, your own analyses and BodyStories. Siebers is also very useful “in dialogue” with Foucault.

Please record in your notes the definition that Siebers gives for each of these very large concepts, referring to specific passages (and their page numbers) from the essay. Then, reflect in writing (after each definition) on how you see his definitions of these concepts at work as you look back at our discussions of the first short memoir pieces we have read.Talk about the ideology from the reading that I have attached. I also have an example below but this is another students answer and you can not use it. It is here as a reference of what kind of things to take away from the reading.



Siebers explains that our believing that the body “doesn’t matter” while simultaneously believing that it can/should be perfected shows how deep we are in ideological thought. We embrace this contradiction without questioning it because ideology does not permit the contradiction necessary to question it. Ideology creates, by its exclusionary nature, social locations outside of itself – in this case, the locations of ability vs. disability. Siebers calls us to critique the dominant ideology of ability, which is the preference for ablebodiedness that sets a certain standard for “humanness” and is consistently influencing the way we interact with the world. He also hopes that we can recognize the value of disability outside the shadow of ability, raising awareness and helping us understand humanity and embodiment in a more nuanced way (p. 2-3).

Thinking about the dominant narrative of ablebodiedness and the privileges associated makes me think of the work we’ve done discussing the dominant narrative of whiteness and the privileges associated with it. These ideologies govern our thoughts and actions so deeply that it can be genuinely difficult to take a step back and analyze their influence. This is, however, a necessary step in dismantling the power hierarchy and oppression of the “other” (BIPOC, people w/ disability) that our oblivion maintains.

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