Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Book Reviews

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2017), 11, (3), 369–380.

Abstract

Book Reviews Book Reviews Ben Golder, Foucault and the Politics of Rights, Stanford University Press, 2015. Cloth ISBN: 9780804789349, paper ISBN: 9780804796491, digital ISBN: 9780804796514, from $24.95, 246 pp. Linda Steele University of Technology Sydney The period since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was open for signature in 2006 has witnessed a surge in engagement by disability scholars and activists with the instrumental possibilities of human rights, as well as the grounding of political claims in the language of and specific legal texts of human rights (Meekosha and Soldatic 1384). In response to these developments (and broader geopolitical shifts toward increased use of humanitarianism to justify a variety of state interventions) the past decade has also seen the growth of critical disability scholarship questioning and critiquing the limits and negative effects of human rights and humanitarianism more broadly. This critical scholarship interrogates how human rights represent disability and disabled bodies, and situates this interrogation in broader analyses of concepts such as human, injustice, sovereignty, suffering, violence, and state; and in political dynamics of neoliberalism, imperialism, settler colonialism, and globalization (Gill and Schlund-Vials; Howell; Meekosha and Soldatic; Soldatic and Grech; Titchkosky; Wadiwel). This critical scholarship suggests that human rights might risk affirming or re-forming medicalized subjectivities and material practices of biopolitical rule over people with disabilities. Foucault and the Politics of Rights by Ben Golder is a vital and insightful read because it speaks to many of the concerns voiced in contemporary critical disability scholarship and moves beyond these concerns to provide a theoretically informed approach to the instrumental use of human rights that is mindful of the risks and possibilities. The entry point into Golder’s analysis of human rights is Michel Foucault’s writings and specifically what have been identified by other scholars as his two conflicting approaches: an earlier theorization of rights, liberalism, and the subject suggestive of human rights as biopolitical rule; and a later positive deployment of human rights in relation to diverse political interventions. Golder sets out to provide an interpretation of Foucault’s work that cuts across and traces a continuity between these Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 11.3 (2017) ISSN 1757-6458 (print) 1757-6466 (online) © Liverpool University Press https://doi.org/10.3828/jlcds.2017.29

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Author details

Steele, Linda

Danylevich, Theodora

Mangat, Ajitpaul