Why Disability Studies Needs to Take Religion Seriously

Religion and theology are central ways that many people make sense of the world and their own place in that world. But the insights of critical studies of religion, or what is sometimes positioned as religious studies as opposed to theology, are scarce in disability literature. This article suggests some of the costs of this oversight and some of the benefits of including religion. First, this article discusses how some past scholarly engagements of disability and religion have misrepresented and denigrated Judaism. Second, it argues that Judaism paints different disabilities in quite different ways, and that we cannot coherently talk about “disability in Judaism” as if it is a single thing. Third, it discusses the medical model and the social model, and shows how one Jewish woman’s writing on pain complicates how we might think about these models. In this way, the article shows how religious studies can both help remedy past mistakes and bring new insights to disability studies.

Publication Date:
Sep 13 2017
Date Submitted:
Jul 13 2018
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 Record created 2018-07-13, last modified 2019-04-03

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