Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Ellis, L.
Through a filtered lens: unauthorized picture-taking of people with dwarfism in public spaces
(2018) Disability and Society, 33 (2), pp. 218-237.

DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2017.1392930

People with dwarfism often encounter discrimination in their daily interactions with strangers. Staring, harassment and infantilization are some of the behaviours they have reported to encounter. Through two qualitative research studies conducted in 2013 and 2015/16 it was revealed that people with dwarfism also experience strangers taking unauthorized pictures of them. This article explores this phenomenon in depth, utilizing the perspective of individuals who have experienced it first hand and analysing the relevant socio-historical influences. These include the history of the photographic exploitation of ‘abnormal’ bodies, and the cultural construction of a ‘dwarf’ as an object of entertainment. This article engages gaze theories in gender and race and ethnicity studies as well as a discussion of Foucault’s interpretation of the ‘panopticon’, positing that the advent of the cell-phone camera in the twenty-first century has altered how ‘abnormal’ bodies are recorded within oppressive ideological beliefs. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
abnormality; culture; disability; Dwarfism; gaze

One thought on “Through a filtered lens: unauthorized picture-taking of people with dwarfism in public spaces (2018)

  1. dmf says:

    For Sun-ha Hong, the promise of data is the promise to turn bodies into facts: emotions, behavior, and every messy amorphous human reality can be distilled into the discrete, clean cuts of calculable information. We track our exercise, our sexual lives, our relationships, our happiness, in the hope of self-knowledge achieved through machines wrought in the hands of others. Data promises a certain kind of intimacy, but everything about our lived experience constantly violates this serene aesthetic wherein bodies are sanitized, purified, and disinfected into objective and neutral facts. This is the push-pull between the raw and the mediated.
    Whether it be by looking at surveillance, algorithmic, or self-tracking technologies, Hong’s work points to the question of how human individuals become the ingredient for the production of truths and judgments about them by things other than themselves

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