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The Invisibility of Disability: Using Dance to Shake from Bioethics the Idea of ’Broken Bodies‘

Harmon, SHE

Bioethics   29 (7) 488–498

DOI: 10.1111/bioe.12139

September 2015   (First published online December 2014)

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bioe.12139/abstract;jsessionid=9AF524DC432CE3ADC7DD7952044DD414.f02t01

Complex social and ethical problems are often most effectively solved by engaging them at the messy and uncomfortable intersections of disciplines and practices, a notion that grounds the InVisible Difference project, which seeks to extend thinking and alter practice around the making, status, ownership, and value of work by contemporary dance choreographers by examining choreographic work through the lenses of law, bioethics, dance scholarship, and the practice of dance by differently-abled dancers.

This article offers a critical thesis on how bioethics has come to occupy a marginal and marginalizing role in questions about the differently-abled body. In doing so, it has rendered the disabled community largely invisible to and in bioethics. It then defends the claim that bioethics – as a social undertaking pursued collaboratively by individuals from different disciplines – must take much better notice of the body and the embodied individual if it is to better achieve its ends, which include constructing a moral and just society. Finally, this article considers how the arts, and specifically dance (and here dance by differently-abled dancers), provides us with rich evidence about the body and our ability to respond positively to normally ‘othered’ bodies. It concludes that greater attention to empirical evidence like that being generated in InVisible Difference will help to expand the reach and significance of bioethics, and thereby its relevance to (and consciousness of) important questions about the status of bodies and bodily differences, which must be considered as central to its ambitions.