Understanding Disability in South Asia

This paper entails critical analysis of theoretical and empirical aspects of disability and various contemporary debates that revolve around the question of disability in south Asia. In order to understand the disability from sociological and anthropological perspectives, present study follows intersectional, phenomenological and embodiment approaches. These approaches provide deep insights to understand and conceptualise disability from the micro perspective. To understand disability, two models are universally profound; medical and social model. Medical model locates disability within the impaired body and tries to rehabilitate or medicate the impaired part so that through the medical intervention maximum normalcy could be achieved. Whereas, the social model locates disability within societal structures and cultural beliefs that disabled persons have to face in the society. People in rural areas have limited understanding of disability from social or medical model perspectives. Medical understanding of disability among disabled and non-disabled people is confined to only disability certification and availing benefits of disability welfare schemes. Apart from it, disability is purely understood and operationalised within the frame of religion and culture. Other social institutions like caste, gender also influence understanding of disability to a great extent.

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