Cripping the Medical Humanities: Disability, Ableism, and Access Intimacy

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In recent decades, medical humanities scholars have increasingly looked to patient-authored narratives of illness to help medical practitioners better understand patients’ lived experiences of disability. However, within the medical humanities itself, disabled people remain underrepresented as normative conventions of research and teaching systematically exclude disabled scholars. This paper interrogates the medical humanities’ complicity in reproducing relations of power that reinforce biomedicine’s dominance over disabled people. I adopt a cripistemological approach to centre first-person lived experiences of disability as a way of knowing and examine how knowledge about disability is produced through the academic consumption of illness narratives. Drawing on auto-ethnographic observations as a disabled literary scholar working in the medical humanities, I look at how access barriers and micro-ableism from nondisabled physician-researchers at conferences “other” disabled academics. I explore how access intimacy can be developed in the medical humanities to challenge institutional ableism and build intersectional solidarity with queer, non-white disabled people. I reiterate the need for medical humanities researchers and disability activists to collaborate and create a more caring and inclusive society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-60
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2022


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