Embodying disabled liminality: A matter of mal/adjustment to dis/ableism



This article combines the line of work that links disability and liminality with feminist dis/ability studies to analyse how the ‘disabled body-subject’ is produced and subjectified during hospitalisation and post-hospitalisation. This analysis is based on six bodily itineraries conducted with three men and three women with a spinal cord injury (five with tetraplegia and one with paraplegia) acquired during their adolescence. First, we interpret hospitalisation as a phase of ‘acute liminality’ in which the disabled body-subject starts being produced as suspicious, expropriated and de/gendered. Secondly, we illustrate how discharge and the ‘return’ to the community entail the formation of several bodily assemblages that embody mal/adjustment. This leaves the subject in a state of ‘sustained liminality’ plagued with paradoxes and ambivalence. We argue that both liminalities lead disabled subjects to do an emotional work consisting of adjusting to situations of affective disablism while also opening up spaces of resistance regarding heterosexist and ableist mandates. We conclude by pointing out the potentialities of a two-way dialogue between medical sociology and dis/ability studies.

García-Santesmases, A., & Sanmiquel-Molinero, L. Embodying disabled liminality: A matter of mal/adjustment to dis/ableism. Sociology of Health & Illness. 2022;00:1–18.

Laura Sanmiquel Molinero