A geography of intellectual disabilities

Power, Andrew (2009) A geography of intellectual disabilities In, Eklund, Lucas C. and Nyman, Aron S. (eds.) Learning and Memory Developments and Intellectual Disabilities. Hauppauge, US, Nova Science Publishers pp. 285-294.


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People with intellectual disabilities have had a long history of exclusion and enforced dependency. As this commentary examines, the uncertainty regarding their
definition and an acknowledgement that a person with an intellectual disability can be particularly vulnerable to dependency, has led to a very hidden geography for this group. From the middle of the last century, geographers examined the locational separation of people committed to the ‘idiot’ asylums of Victorian Britain and Canada. It was clear that the asylum had a symbolic influence in the community well beyond its rather narrow role as the place of residence. More recently geographers have traced the movement of people with intellectual disabilities to group homes, co-operative housing, residence with parents and independent housing. It was hoped that the relocation from isolated standalone institutions would help to get rid of, or diminish stigmatisation. However, Hall urges us to move away from assuming that marginalisation equates solely with exclusion from mainstream social activities and spaces, and constructing inclusion as a process of incorporation into these activities and spaces. This commentary therefore forces us to take a critical approach on today’s geography of care, where we move beyond narrow binaries of institutionalisation/ deinstitutionalisation, isolation/integration and success/failure. We must be critical of the spaces of incorporation and not assume a place of incorporation is the best choice for a person with an intellectual disability. This is particularly the case if people with intellectual disabilities face a mix of patronisation, fear, an unwillingness to understand ‘non-standard’ forms of communication, and a strong sense of difference in public life.

Item Type: Book Section
ISBNs: 1608763978 (print)
9781608763979 (print)
9781611225341 (electronic)
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ePrint ID: 194009
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2011 08:52
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 01:43
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/194009

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