In Mexico there is no structured history of disability. There are certificates of disability, campaigns aimed toward people with disabilities, disabled seats and parking spaces and even a General Law for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. People have an idea of how to identify disability or who to describe as disabled, but don’t know much about the origin of that term or why that word should be used instead of many others that could describe the same thing. This is not just a matter of everyday pragmatics and bureaucracy but also an identity issue for one of the most vulnerable minorities in the country. They have to go by outdated and vertically imposed representations that decades of institutional regulations and media descriptions have built for them and keep repeating. The lack of a history of disability that provides a voice, a context and a record of the existence of these identities trough time is apparently harmless, but it manifests as an absence that complicates the current reality of disability and perpetuates its understanding as a category subordinated to the medical. It leads to incomplete and insubstantial narratives that are the basis for social programs of welfare, healthcare, and education that set the tone and language for the social interaction with disability. In this way, the absence and the gap that it generates raise questions about the relationship between history and ways of seeing and naming, as well as the need for a counteraction. How can disability be re-articulated in history and thus change our present?
This project traces the different conceptions and representations of disability made by governmental institutions and disseminated by the media, since the 1940s in Mexico, with the objective of analyzing in which ways they influence the current understanding of that condition. Departing from questions that address the boundaries between disability and disease, the project advocates for an understanding of disability as a separate condition that may intersect with disease at times, but that can not be contained by the medical. It looks at the words used to define and describe disability and think of the role of discourse in an ontology of disability.
On the other hand dealing with the constitution and dissemination of history and archives, the project thinks towards the possibilities of communicating disability through History. The project understands disability as a nontransferable embodiment that generates its own experiences and knowledge, and takes this subjectivities as a valuable source. It examines the ways in which these can be used both as archival strategies and archived matter.