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Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability Oppression and Empowerment

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James Charlton has produced a ringing indictment of disability oppression, which, he says, is rooted in degradation, dependency, and powerlessness and is experienced in some form by five hundred million persons throughout the world who have physical, sensory, cognitive, or developmental disabilities. Nothing About Us Without Us is the first book in the literature on disability to provide a theoretical overview of disability oppression that shows its similarities to, and differences from, racism, sexism, and colonialism. Charlton's analysis is illuminated by interviews he conducted over a ten-year period with disability rights activists throughout the Third World, Europe, and the United States.

Charlton finds an antidote for dependency and powerlessness in the resistance to disability oppression that is emerging worldwide. His interviews contain striking stories of self-reliance and empowerment evoking the new consciousness of disability rights activists. As a latecomer among the world's liberation movements, the disability rights movement will gain visibility and momentum from Charlton's elucidation of its history and its political philosophy of self-determination, which is captured in the title of his book.

Nothing About Us Without Us expresses the conviction of people with disabilities that they know what is best for them. Charlton's combination of personal involvement and theoretical awareness assures greater understanding of the disability rights movement.

213 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1998

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James I. Charlton

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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 reviews
Profile Image for Colin.
710 reviews21 followers
July 4, 2007
I didn't like this book the first time I tried to read it, but after I took 16 credits of Marxist theory during my BA, I was able to fully appreciate its substantial value. It's the author's dissertation, I believe, and is a very important contribution to disability studies as a field. The author undertook the project as an anti-racist intervention in the extremely white- and north american-dominated field of Disability Studies, and the book attempts to survey radical disability organizations and activists around the world. The entire book is grounded in Marxist theory, so familiarity with key concepts like dialectics and alienation will greatly enhance your experience of the book.
Profile Image for Glenn Moses.
11 reviews2 followers
June 6, 2013
Before picking this book up I was hopeful that it would adress issues around cognitive disability and mental illness. The author addresses that physical disability is the focus of the book in the introduction. Although disappointed I went ahead and read the book. It's a powerful reminder of the struggles that have been faced and the struggles yet to come for individuals with any type of disability. I especially enjoyed the sections on how religion effects how disability is viewed and how labels do more harm than good.
Profile Image for G.
297 reviews2 followers
May 22, 2013
I think this is an okay introduction to theory in terms of disability rights BUT at times I found Charlton's explanations rather simplistic. In addition, he gets simple facts wrong (things such as who wrote a certain book)...and while it's minor, I still found it a tad annoying. I think he sets the groundwork for a more complicated exploration of theory in disabilities, and if you are someone who is not entirely grounded in theory it's a good intro. I'm looking forward to reading more in this area.
4 reviews2 followers
March 17, 2012
Useful for Charlton's work applying theoretical analysis of modern politics to the question of disability. His research is pretty vast, especially his work making connections with activists globally.
Profile Image for Suzen.
75 reviews13 followers
May 8, 2011
This was way above my educational level but I really enjoyed the topic and information shared in this book.
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 reviews

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