Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race - Cultural Front (Hardback)Ellen Samuels (author)
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In themid-nineteenth-century United States, as it became increasingly difficult todistinguish between bodies understood as black, white, or Indian; able-bodiedor disabled; and male or female, intense efforts emerged to define theseidentities as biologically distinct and scientifically verifiable in aliterally marked body. Combining literary analysis, legal history, and visualculture, Ellen Samuels traces the evolution of the "fantasy ofidentification"-the powerful belief that embodied social identities are fixed,verifiable, and visible through modern science. From birthmarks andfingerprints to blood quantum and DNA, she examines how this fantasy hascirculated between cultural representations, law, science, and policy to becomeone of the most powerfully institutionalized ideologies of modern society.
Yet, as Samuels demonstrates, in every case, the fantasydistorts its claimed scientific basis, substituting subjective language forclaimed objective fact. Fromits early emergence in discourses about disability fakery and fugitive slavesin the nineteenth century to its most recent manifestation in the question ofsex testing at the 2012 Olympic Games, Fantasies of Identification exploresthe roots of modern understandings of bodily identity.
Publisher: New York University Press
Number of pages: 273
Weight: 540 g
Dimensions: 229 x 153 x 25 mm
"In this smart and readable book, Samuels traces her subject from the nineteenth century into the early twenty-first, where it persists in debates over blood quantum, DNA testing, and disabled parking permits."-American Literature
"Fantasies of Identification, which sits at the intersection of US literary history, disability, gender, queer, and critical race studies, will have a powerful impact, not only on disability studies but also on intersectional and transgender studies in general...Scholars of transgender studies and disability studies alike will appreciate such a fine model of vital contributions each makes to the other as they are, indeed, in integral relationships."-,TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly
"Fantasies of Identification is enormously suggestive, bringing together disability studies, comparative racialization, queer theory, and cultural analysis in new and exciting ways.-MELUS
"Whether through measures of blood quantum, disability assessment, or sex/gender testing in athletics, Ellen Samuels makes clear that what she terms `biocertification' continues to operate everywhere in contemporary cultures, regulating social worth, citizenship, and group membership. We have long needed Fantasies of Identification to understand more fully the ways in which disability is thickly interwoven with histories of race, sexuality, and gender in the United States."-Robert McRuer,author of Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability
"A beautifully written, ambitiously imagined, and wonderfully nuanced book. Samuels provides brilliantly argued case studies that demonstrate the discursive and visual processes by which Americans have, since the mid-nineteenth century, lived under various regimes of identification-both those imposed and those claimed through one's subjective understanding of the world. Fantasies of Identification will be a marvelous contribution to disability studies, American studies, and literary historical studies."-David Serlin,author of Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America
"Samuels examines in depth how stereotypes relating to disability, gender, and race are first created through literature, which shapes basic schema held by society. These stereotypes are then reinforced by media through cinematic representations of what Samuels calls `fantasy of identity' or cultural tropes, often idealized with tangential relation to actual bodies. Summing Up: Highly recommended."-Choice
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