(Un)Stable: A Cripistemological Queering of Diabetes and Dis/ability
Helmich, Diana Willemijn
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In this thesis, I explore the ways that diabetes type 1 has been included and excluded from disability scholarship and discourses. This research project takes up Alison Kafer’s remark in Feminist. Queer. Crip. (2013) that the largest group of people with disabilities, such as those with diabetes, do not consider themselves disabled or crip. I investigate the question “why diabetes can(not) be considered a dis/ability” through a mixed method approach of autoethnography, semistructured qualitative interviews, and textual and cultural analysis. Why is diabetes generally not seen as a disability from the perspective of the disability community and from those who are diabetic? What does that reveal about how diabetes and disability are viewed in scholarship and in society? And what does say about the values attached to normative (dis)abled embodiments? In four chapters that weave together theory and lived experience, I investigate disability discourse, disability/diabetes identity, neoliberal agentic subjectivity in diabetes care, and alternative, queer, and affective modes of kinship and care. Following Robert McRuer and Lisa Johnson (2014), I aim to create a “cripistemelogy” (or a crip epistemology) of diabetes type 1. Using queer, feminist, and disability scholarship, I contend that diabetes type 1 is scripted as a medical disease that is embedded in ‘compulsory able-bodiedness’ (McRuer  2017) which consequently leaves the lived, cultural experiences undertheorised. The hypothesis of the thesis is that personal narratives that highlight the (un)stable aspects of diabetes can offer an entry into destabilising, questioning, and queering categories of (dis)abled embodiment. Indeed, I offer ways of imagining (un)stable diabetic embodiment as a site of resistance that open up new potentialities for radical inclusivity (Keating 2013). Through a cripistemological queering of diabetes, I offer an approach of dis/ability, which is an internal critique towards neoliberal notions of the (dis)abled body, or, phrased differently, an internal critique towards (st)able-bodiedness.