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November 2021

Drawing new maps: A radical cartography of developmental disabilities

Journal/Book: Rev Educ Res. 1999; 69: 1230 17Th St NW, Washington, DC 20036-3078, USA. Amer Educational Research Assoc. 117-144.

Abstract: Developmental disability is explored using a post-disciplinary approach through social construction and cultural cartography metaphors. It is drawn on social maps as a cultural territory created by the totalizing, mystifying science of positivism. People described as ''having'' developmental disabilities inhabit landscapes that are pathologized and marginalized, surrounded by impermeable label borders created by processes of quantification and numbering. Although seen as necessary by some in order to obtain adequate services for their survival in schools and other institutions of modernist society, these borders do not benefit those they contain. Instead, cartographies created by special education and other human service practices become reified, commodified, and objectified, providing a rationale for continued dehumanization and oppression. Alternative metaphors to labeling and other educational practices are suggested as new ways of drawing cultural maps. Policy implications for those educational and research sites seeking to change professionalized discourse to include labeled, otherized persons are discussed.

Note: Review Smith P, Univ Vermont, 158 Culver Hill Rd, Middlesex,VT 05602 USA

Keyword(s): MENTAL-RETARDATION; SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION; LEARNING-DIFFICULTIES; DOWNS-SYNDROME; SOCIOLOGY; POLITICS; PEOPLE; LIFE; STUPIDITY; EUGENICS


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