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Paralympic cultures: disability as paradigm

Conroy, Colette


Colette Conroy


This is an article about the Paralympic Games of summer 2012 and the experience of watching them. It rehearses the use of disability as political and cultural identity in relation to theatre and performance studies. Disability identity is not an identity based on similitude, but is a complex and nuanced relationship between singularity of embodied social experience and glimmers of common ground. Taking the works of Rod Michalko and Petra Kuppers as a representative foundation of disability studies, the article offers disability as an epistemological standpoint, a way of thinking, and not an object of thought. The argument works through close readings of three examples to introduce the theatre and performance studies reader to the notion of disability as a paradigm for the consideration of ideas of difference, similitude and identity. The process of reading the Paralympics from the perspective of a disabled person, bike riding sports fan and disability performance scholar gestures to the scope and potential of disability performance studies. The article accumulates three examples of one disabled person navigating a complex set of positions, all of which are iterations of disability. Whilst this critical approach might imply solipsism, the article also considers disability as community.


Conroy, C. (2013). Paralympic cultures: disability as paradigm. Contemporary Theatre Review, 23(4), 519-531.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2013-11
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Contemporary theatre review
Print ISSN 1048-6801
Electronic ISSN 1477-2264
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 519-531
Keywords Paralympic Games (14th : 2012 : London, England), Disability
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Contemporary theatre review on 20th November 2013, available online:


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