Disability, Queer Phenomenology, and the Politics of Personhood

Thomas Abrams

University of Toronto



This paper explores Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology from a disability studies perspective. In addition to her emphasis on race and desire, I ask how we might use Ahmed’s queer, cultural phenomenology to ask about the sociomaterial basis of disablement, reflecting on the interactive emergence of these subjectivities more generally. In the first section of this paper, I examine¬¬ the three main chapters in Ahmed’s important book. I then ask what Ahmed might have asked, if she had explored disability therein. Next, I turn to some phenomenological disability studies, interrogating how subjectivity is put to work in the shared world, rather than universally accorded to all persons at all times. In the final section of this paper, I return to the basis of the phenomenological project itself, and ask what this revised version of subjectivity means for the phenomenology of Heidegger and Husserl, with an eye to future work.


Keywords: Phenomenology; Disability; Queer Theory; Racialization; Sara Ahmed