Citizenship on Trial: 'Disability' and the Borders of Gender

Flavia Monceri


In the last decades, citizenship has been increasingly under debate especially with respect to the growing internal diversification of contemporary complex societies. The question I address in this article is very similar to that addressed by such debate: «How can we manage to actually extend membership, rights and participation, i.e. the substantial features of citizenship as it is currently understood, to all who are inserted within a political community, in order to realize the democratic ideal of the sovereignty of all as the sovereignty of each one?». I move from the idea that the notion of citizenship assumes a model of ‘the citizen’, which refers to a ‘human type’ as an obliged starting point to establish the borders of actual membership, rights and participation. In its turn, the model of the citizen is built by selecting some recursive features which are considered typical of ‘human beings’. Among them, able-bodiedness and sex (and hence gender), are always included in the selection because they are the most immediately linked to the concrete bodies of individuals, which political orders aim at disciplining and policing. However, even able-bodiedness and sex/gender are but ‘ideal types’ built by selecting some recursive features and discarding all the other possible ones. My aim is to show that moving from here it is possible to rethink citizenship by addressing concrete liminal cases. Here I will jontly consider the so-called ‘disabled bodies’ and the overcoming of the gender borders. 

Keywords: Citizenship, Disability, Disabled Bodies, Sex/Gender, Nussbaum, Care.


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