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Disability Culture

Danika's picture

In my experience, I've usually believed that a culture is established by the people who experience and shape it, either by being a part of a particular demographic or by specific proximity to it. This is an imperfect definition, as culture is always fluid, but I think it makes clear that there are generally people who don't inhibit a given cultural space. I.e. allies are allies, but they don't have a role in a culture regardless of allyship. With disability culture, I think a little differently; perhaps due to the fact that all people are impacted by disability culture in some way, or have the ability to become a member of the disabled community. In this way, allies (and non-disabled people in general) have influence on disability culture and experience it, even indirectly. Disability culture also lives under a large umbrella; intersectionality, specific forms of disability, exterior culture and community, etc. all play a part in how a culture related to disability is formed, shaped, and maintained, which is distinct from all other disability cultures. They are all linked by a larger experience of interdependence and access, such that each disability culture can be connected to another via struggles surrounding these ideas. My opinion is therefore that there are innumerable disability cultures which can interact with and be related to each other, but are defined by individuals' experiences and selves. They can be spoken into being by these formed communities themselves, or even simple acknowledged through action by any number of individuals. I think it's all generally very fluid, because a culture means something different to everyone who experiences it, so the definition can't be contained by one person, one thought, or one slogan.