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Accepted Paper:

Excessive Bodies, Unwavering Needs: Locating Responsibility for the Care of Disabled Children During COVID-19 in India  
Kim Fernandes (University of Pennsylvania)

Paper short abstract:

Through a combination of digital ethnography and critical discourse analysis of media sources, this paper examines how the needs of disabled children have been discussed and responded to by their caregivers, educators, international organizations and the Indian state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paper long abstract:

Prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, children have been widely written about as the future of the nation and a significant source of potential for economic growth in India. Amidst these normative framings, disabled children are often described as inhabiting atypical childhoods, a construction which further obscures their lived realities. Disabled children have been relegated to the margins of state care, coming to be constructed as burdensome and vulnerable when their bodies do not conform to ideals of self-reliant, independent citizens under the logics of neoliberal ableism. Bringing scholarship from the anthropology of childhood to bear on media representations of state care during the pandemic, this paper argues that care for children’s needs has been described by the media and provided by the state through three primary lenses -- first, physical care for the needs of bodies that are seen as excessive and therefore requiring exceptional kinds of care. Second, material care for children’s needs has been discussed through the lens of schooling, where neoliberal, ableist logics emerge in the form of concerns around the loss of learning that children are experiencing during this time. Finally, during the pandemic, responsibility for the management of disabled children’s purportedly excessive needs has been a source of contention between parents and educators. Through a combination of digital ethnography and critical discourse analysis of media sources, this paper will discuss how children’s bodies and needs have been explicitly discursively constructed as excessive by implicitly drawing upon neoliberal, ableist logics of loss and productivity.

Panel Heal10c
Care, responsibility, and COVID-19 social restrictions III
  Session 1 Thursday 1 April, 2021, -