Passing Strategies and Performative Identities: Coping with (In)Visible Chronic Diseases

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3 Citations (Scopus)


In this article I consider the role of passing and performance in the everyday lives of alkaptonuria (AKU) and vitiligo patients. Race, LGBTQ, gender and disability scholars have long used the term passing to describe sub-groups of people within marginal populations who intentionally manipulate their bodies or alter their behaviour in order to claim identities that are not socially assigned to them at birth. In this paper I demonstrate the effectiveness of the passing strategies that patients use in order to mitigate their disease symptoms and render them invisible, thus enabling them to pass as “healthy” or unaffected by their condition. I further consider how patients who choose not to pass utilise resistance strategies in order to generate awareness of their disease and encourage funding for it. I conclude by assessing the effectiveness of these strategies in determining whether or not patients can pass, and the ways in which this is aided or hindered by their social and economic status.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Humanities
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2019


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