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Un/inhabitable worlds: the curious case of Down’s syndrome

Thomas, Gareth Martin ORCID: 2015. Un/inhabitable worlds: the curious case of Down’s syndrome. Somatosphere 2015 (29 Jul)

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In her superb exposition of staring, Garland-Thomson (2009) draws attention to Chris Rush’s artistic piece Swim 2 which depicts a woman with Down’s syndrome in a regal pose. She continues: "The portrait invites us to stare, engrossed perhaps less with the “strangeness” of this woman’s disability and more with the strangeness of witnessing such dignity in a face that marks a life we have learned to imagine as unliveable and unworthy, as the kind of person we routinely detect in advance through medical technology and eliminate from our human community" (2009: 83). Garland-Thomson appears to make two separate ‘orientations’ (Friedner 2015): one in which Down’s syndrome is afforded a positive social imaginary marked by dignity and worth, and another in which this condition is categorised as an existence without value. Likewise, I see two different and competing ways of enacting Down’s syndrome, that is, as both a negative pregnancy outcome (via prenatal technology) and as joyous, enlightening, and not the misfortune one may initially imagine on receipt of a diagnosis (via parental accounts).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 18 June 2015
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 22:48

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