Disability, Impairment and the Body
The story of disability is a long and tangled one, bound up in political struggle, world political and social institutions, and of course, theoretical contentions between varied academic and political viewpoints on the very nature of disability, health, illness, and the body. In short, however, because of this, it provides us with an extremely valuable site to view the body as it is most often seen in academic and political discourse – as a contested site. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ‘furor,’ if you will, that has long been connected with studies of disability. To understand, or at least to gain some basic grasp of this highly complex debate, a historical under-
standing of the issue is needed. It is here where I would like to begin our discussion. After all, as Lewis Carroll once so aptly put it, when one tells a story, one should always begin at the beginning and end at the end. While we most certainly don’t have an end in sight, we do have a beginning. The story begins with the social constructions of disability and the resulting emergence of disability theory, primarily in the United Kingdom.