Academic journal article Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Taking It to the Bank: Independence and Inclusion on the World Market

Academic journal article Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Taking It to the Bank: Independence and Inclusion on the World Market

Article excerpt

The essay examines contemporary uses of 'independence' and 'inclusion' within and around the disability rights movement. The concepts are often positioned as self-evidently positive or as the obvious goals towards which disability and other movements should be striving. Through an examination of the World Bank's appropriation of these concepts, and of the social model of disability more generally, the essay argues for always understanding the concepts structuring the disability movement, including seemingly-sacrosanct concepts such as independence, as historical and contingent. The essay considers both how World Bank rhetorics of independence and inclusion mask the deeper dependencies generated by global capitalism and how, in a different context, dependency theory in disability studies provides us with limited but crucial tools for critiquing those rhetorics.

In March 2007, a unit dependent upon but not reducible to the World Bank published Social Analysis and Disability: A Guidance Note. Part of a larger series devoted to consideration of the ways in which critical analysis of social and cultural issues might positively influence Bank operations, the Guidance Note on disability, running almost 90 pages, first attempts to explain what a social analysis of disability might be and then details how that analysis could function as an integral part of World Bank operations and projects. Although the "publication was developed and produced by the Social Development Family of the World Bank, which is found in the Sustainable Development Network," the World Bank inner circle, in the front matter to the document, claims autonomy and independence in relation to it, insisting that the "findings, interpretations, judgments, and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be attributed to the World Bank, to its affiliated organizations, or to members of the Board of Executive Directors or the governments they represent." Although the subtitle to the document is "Incorporating Disability-Inclusive Development into Bank-Supported Projects," the acknowledgements similarly position the project in the orbit of the World Bank without compromising the Bank's autonomy: "The Social Analysis and Disabilities Guidelines Note is a product of a team of colleagues and consultants inside and outside of the Bank" (iii).2

Despite their subordination to the actual World Bank (an ironic relationship of dependency to which I will return later), this team of colleagues and consultants not exactly identifiable as the Bank but nonetheless identified by it (for the purpose of generating Social Analysis and Disability), and explicitly seeking to advise it, is worth taking seriously. I am especially interested in this essay in how Social Analysis and Disability appropriates and reproduces what Raymond Williams might term 'vocabularies' of independence and inclusion developed within the disability rights movement. The terms independence and inclusion have generally worked together within the movement, with declarations of disability independence positioned as necessary for full inclusion within society or as simply part of full inclusion within societies understood to place a high value upon independence. This essay attends to some of the ways in which those vocabularies travel, specifically analyzing what happens when "colleagues and consultants" take them to the Bank. Attending to how those vocabularies travel, I link their problematic use in relation to disability to their use, by the World Bank or its affiliates, in relation to other movements, women's movements in particular. Although independence and inclusion in these other contexts are not always or immediately legible as connected to disability or disabled people per se, I intend in this essay to affirm the broad scope of concerns that can and should be encompassed by disability studies and to insist that a critical attention to the shifting vocabularies of contemporary political economy (or, put differently, to the cultural logics of neoliberalism) should be indispensable for the field. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.