Kelly Fritsch and Anne McGuire on ‘Risk and the Spectral Politics of Disability’

Kelly Fritsch and Anne McGuire introduce their Body & Society article ‘Risk and the Spectral Politics of Disability

Drawing on the institutional history of the sperm bank and legacies of eugenics, we consider how spectrums of risk simultaneously constrain and expand possibilities for disability justice. We do so by examining the discourses surrounding US-based Xytex Corporation sperm bank Donor 9623, described as the ‘perfect’ donor but later discovered to have a criminal record and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Haunted by the dread of disability, we examine how parents mark the fate of their donor-conceived child on a graded spectrum of genetic and psychiatric risk, in need of perpetual monitoring and intervention. Using this case to understand the contemporary reorganization of disability via spectral risk, we advocate for a critical engagement with how disability haunting can enable us to better attend to the effects of the past and present in such a way that provokes a more collectively just future.

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