Living Across and Through Skins: Transactional Bodies, by Shannon Sullivan

By Shannon Sullivan

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Extra resources for Living Across and Through Skins: Transactional Bodies, Pragmatism, and Feminism

Example text

Dewey never used the metaphor of a stew. But his explanation of his distaste for the melting pot metaphor and his reservations about the alternative metaphor of an orchestra shed further light on the notion of transaction. Around the time of World War I, American intellectual Horace M. 10 Kallen argued that, just as in an orchestra each instrument has its own distinct sound and plays a distinct role in producing the beautiful music of the whole symphony, each individual or ethnic group in society has a distinct contribution to make to the larger harmony of the overall culture.

The social factors that require farmers to produce more food at the lowest possible cost and at maximum pro¤t transact with bodies that consume food to constitute their level of functioning. With regard to social arrangements and biological conditions, architecture comes to mind. Buildings with stairs but no ramps make transporting oneself with one’s arms via a wheelchair, instead of one’s legs via walking, into a disability. The biological condition of legs that do not move becomes a disability when a society makes that condition relevant through its construction of buildings only for people who can move their legs.

Societal norms and standards, often re®ected in physical and institutional structures, establish the line between ability and disability, thereby marking off and creating a distinct category of disability with the very establishment of that line. To take my earlier example, if in a given society, buildings and walkways were built with ramps and not stairs and aisles, 23 Living Across and Through Skins and passageways were made amply wide, then transportation via wheelchair would not be a disability.

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