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Through engaging with this collection of articles devoted to cognitive disability, I offer concluding remarks concerned specifically with the heuristic and experiential value of the concept of ‘the social’. I argue that an exploration of cognitive disability opens up a space for anthropologists to consider their own language and semiotic ideologies and to consider how to attend to and produce knowledge with non-linguistic subjects. Beyond this, how might anthropologists also consider how to make their own works cognitively accessible?

Contributor Notes

Michele Friedner is Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. She is a medical anthropologist who conducts research with deaf and disabled people in India. Her first book, titled Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India (Rutgers, 2015), analyses how deafness and disability as categories and experiences enable the creation of multiple forms of (ambivalent) value and how Indian Sign Language-using deaf young adults circulate through diverse spaces including churches, vocational training programmes, multinational corporate office spaces and multi-level marketing businesses in order to create inhabitable presents and futures. Friedner is currently working on an ethnography of cochlear implantation in India.

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  • Ferguson, J. 2015. Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Friedner, M. and P. Block. 2017. ‘Deaf Studies Meets Autistic Studies’. The Senses & Society 12 (3): 282300.

  • Ginsburg, F. and R. Rapp. 2013. ‘Disability Worlds’. Annual Review of Anthropology 42: 5368.

  • Giordano, C. 2014. Migrants in Translation: Caring and the Logics of Difference in Contemporary Italy. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

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  • Kafer, A. 2013. Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

  • Kulick, D. and J. Rydstrom. 2015. Loneliness and Its Opposite: Sex, Disability, and the Ethics of Engagement. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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  • Lewis, E. 2016. ‘A Death in the Family: Disability Activism, Mourning, and Diagnostic Kinship’. Disability Studies Quarterly 36 (4).

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  • Price, M. 2011. Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

  • Rose, N. 1996. ‘The Death of the Social? Re-figuring the Territory of Government’. Economy & Society 25 (3): 327356.

  • Shakespeare, T. 2002. ‘The Social Model of Disability: An Outdated Ideology?’ In L. Davis (ed.), The Disability Studies Reader, 2nd edition. New York: Routledge, 197204.

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  • Stevenson, L. 2014. Life Besides Itself: Imagining Care in the Canadian Arctic. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.


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