Accepted Paper:

Mutual construction of individuality through intercorporeality/intersubjectivity: exploring care practices of a child with cerebral palsy in Sweden  


Koya Sato (Chiba University)

Paper short abstract:

I explore the performative construction of individuality by focusing on unspoken experiences. By examining the practices surrounding a girl with cerebral palsy in a preschool in Sweden, I discuss how people use intersubjectivity and intercorporeality to place the girl as an individual.

Paper long abstract:

I explore the question of how the nature of the individuality of humans is constructed through performative practices in daily situations. To explore this question, I discuss the practices of teachers and a girl with cerebral palsy in a preschool in Sweden, and how each practice places the girl as an individual. As a result of the emphasis by disability movements on the social factor of disabilities, many political movements have been pushing for the inclusion into the society of people with impairments as regular individuals. With these attempts to achieve an inclusive society in Sweden, many preschools now accept both children with and without impairments in the same school. However, the girl with cerebral palsy examined in this study has a language impairment and seems to encounter difficulties in behaving as an individual in daily situations.

From the daily interactions between the girl with cerebral palsy and the teachers, I found that their intimate practices with bodily touch gave the teachers an understanding of the will and preferences of the girl. Thus, intercorporeal and intersubjective practices, which are different from language communication practices, are significant in interpreting the subjectivity of others in this situation. The will and preferences of the girl are articulated and transferred between teachers and other children, and people in the preschool can recognize the status of the girl as an individual in these articulations. To conclude, I argue for the significance of intercorporeal and intersubjective practices in constructing the status of an individual.

Panel MB-MT08
Phenomenal landscapes of care: ethnographic cases and methodological challenges of accounting for unspoken and unspeakable experiences