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Blindness: Cultural and incorporeal productions of a condition
Bruno Daniel Gomes de Sena Martins, School of Economy, University of Coimbra, Portugal
I propose to analyze the symbolic violence resulting from the cultural and political marginalization of the narratives of blind persons, particularly in a tentative to grasp how those narratives are subsumed in a "personal tragedy narrative".
Focusing on blindness, indubitably an important sensorial limitation, this space aims to formulate and reflect on the multiple questionings that this issue raises, taking as a central reference the persuasion about the persistence and vitality of a "personal tragedy narrative" (Oliver, 1990). This narrative is identified and unveiled here as a conceptual base in the production and reproduction of an insidious social imagery on blindness and blind persons. Grounded in an ethnographic experience with the Associação dos Cegos e Amblíopes de Portugal (ACAPO), I propose to evaluate the implications resulting from the vitality of that hegemonic grammar. A grammar which is hardly sensitive to the lives and the reflexivity of blind persons, particularly, in the way it succeeds operating as a regime of truth by the economic, social and political constraints it imposes. Instigated by the powerful disparity emerging from here, I set out to experience and grasp what is there of empowerment and resistance in the associative discourse of blind people. The epistemological route that I propose to take seeks to introduce the inescapable pertinence of the incorporeal character of every experience as an extension of a cultural grounding of the physical body. In the Portuguese context it is analyzed the intimate relation established between the cultural and political marginalization of the personal narratives of blind persons, and the pertinence - congruence - assumed by intersubjective projection of blindness as one of the most feared conditions. This is a field of enquiry, where the study of cultural representations intermingles with phenomenological aspects. In this way, the capacity for imaginative projection is to be considered as a vital cognitive faculty, in what is understood as an erroneous emphatic identification, largely contributing to the inculcation of the ideas of inability and hopelessness in the lives of blind persons. I try to assert the relation between an urgent social transformation, leading to the social inclusion of blind persons and disabled persons in Portugal, and the importance to be given to a "social model of disability". The contextual political and cultural difficulties for a break with the prevalent "rehabilitation approach" - present in the social policies and in the action of the organizations of disabled persons - will be asserted as a main cause for the perpetuation of the marginalization and invisibility of disability from the socio-political arena.
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