The Centrality of Disablement Subjectivation to the Reproduction of Capitalist Social Relations: Considerations for Critical and Global Political Economy [abstract and slides]

Below are the abstract and presentation slides I created for the talk delivered at Critical Political Economy Research Network’s mid-term Workshop in Napoli, Italy on 10th June 2023.


In the face of a global, mass impairment-, distress-, and chronic illness-producing and exacerbating event such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the question of how to consider and integrate disability within Global Political Economy scholarship and anti-capitalist activism has become ever-more pressing. In this presentation (informed by my research project on The Politics of Disablement and Precarious Work), I provide GPE scholars with a proposal for how to conceptualise the commonality between people who identify as having impairments, being chronically ill, neurodivergent, experiencing mental distress, and who may or may not also identify as being disabled in capitalist societies. To this end, I adopt the ‘social model of disability’ and engage with both Moran’s cultural materialist approach to identity and Autonomist Marxism’s ‘class composition’ thesis. Then, I make the case for the analytic usefulness of the non-identity concept ‘subjects of disablement’ alongside the political, collective identity ‘disabled people’. Further, I posit that capitalism and its social relations cannot be fully understood and ruptured unless social movements integrate an analysis of and mobilisation against -what I call- disabling capitalism. Such integration would equip the GPE scholarship embedded within the praxis of dissent and resistance (see Bonfert, Bailey and Clua-Losada, 2022) to argue and mobilise for the abolition of disabling capitalism and capitalist disablement. The Global Political Economy Journal offers the opportunity for the ‘sluice gates’ (Clua-Losada and Moore, 2022: 6) of this interdisciplinary field to be widely opened for, and welcoming of, such critical and crucial research.

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Ioana Cerasella Chis