“Disabling Practices” applies a science and technology studies lens to Disability Studies and the sociology of blindness. Drawing on ethnographic work in the North of England, Schillmeier follows the disclosure of visual disability in currency use, how relations between human bodies and money technologies cause visual disability to emerge. The emphasis moves from problem bodies to problem relations. Dis/ability is not solely in bodies or in barriers—as the social or medical models would have it—but unfolds in the interaction between bodies, senses and things (the subtitle of Schillmeier, 2010, integrating this 2007 article).
I first read Schillmeier’s work in my M.A. research, in disability studies, social theory, and political economy. Reading the dominant disability studies literature against my own experience of muscular dystrophy, I felt something was missing. Yes, sometimes I experience exclusion in everyday life, but there is much more to being a disabled person than that. Schillmeier’s paper best linked the three together. It demanded a picture of disability not wholly dominated by natural or social explanation, an extremely rigorous reading of contemporary social theory, and a nuanced understanding of disability politics (albeit one with teeth).
Schillmeier, M. (2007). Dis/Abling Practices: Rethinking Disability. Human Affairs, 17, 195–208. http://doi.org/10.2478/v10023-007-0017-6
Schillmeier, M. (2010). Rethinking Disability: Bodies, Senses, Things. New York: Routledge.