Subjects of Inclusion

5.9.2019| Alter Conference | Universität zu Köln | mit Prof. Dr. Manuel Zahn

Dis/ability and the associated desire for inclusion are often thought in relation to the abilities and possibilities of individual subjects. Following a cultural approach, we understand impairment, disability and normality as generated effects – through academic knowledge, mass media, everyday discourses and symbolic representations, and therefore not as natural fact, but as naturalized difference (Waldschmidt 2017). And thinking about the Subject of Inclusion, we consider the individual subject as a category of normalization within socio-cultural production. In critical demarcation to an individual understanding of the subject we argue that the Subject of Inclusion should be thought of as a dispersed one, as an element of a complex network or a network itself. These dispersed subjects are unstable in their constitution as networks and are constantly reassembled, in the sense of becoming (Deleuze) – from various human and non-human actors.

After a historical reconstruction of the individual subject we are introducing a relational-materialistic perspective with e.g. Niewöhner and Kontopidis, and  challenge the binarity of subjects and objects and propose to transfer agency to a network of different heterogeneous entities (Niewöhner and Kontopodis, 2008: 10). Here it must be taken into account that these entities involved in the constitution of subjectivity have expanded to complex technologies since digitality. What we offer, then, with Karen Barad’s theory of agential realism, is a posthuman perspective on inclusion in which inclusion and its subjects are not produced only in intersubjective symbolic, language-based discourses  but in complex “intra-actions” (Barad 2012) between humans, things, discourses, practises, technological means and more.

With an actor-theoretical perspective, with which both social variables and power relations are taken into account, we ask for new premises for inclusive research, especially with regard to education.

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