Beyond the fortress : dis/ability, community and care.

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Theses / Dissertations
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Master of Arts
University of Canterbury
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Dares, Cushla Brooke

Organised Disability Rights Movements have existed for nearly half a century. Despite various calls for change and engagement in social action by those involved, it could be argued that dis/abled people are yet to have experienced the civil rights movement they first envisaged all those years ago. From a New Zealand perspective, many people with dis/abilities continue to experience systemic marginalisation and social exclusion. Many of the issues one might deem important for dis/ability advancement are housed within a distinct and siloed Disability Sector. Approaches for social change within this area are contested. In recent times, there has been growing discussion linked to the idea that enhanced community, leadership, and leadership development are one of the best ways forward: a post-activism of sorts. Through ethnographic encounters within the Disability Sector and areas related to leadership development, this thesis explores some of the paradigmatic tensions, and the profound sense of dissatisfaction, that dis/abled New Zealanders have identified with the status quo. This thesis focuses on care, connection, and community. It calls for a more basic community-centred approach, and a mentoring orientation as directed towards ways by which relational practices and forms of service could be better supported. It also identifies possibilities for moving beyond the us/them, abled/disabled binary, and classification of human beings. Central to this is a focus upon culture and culture repair. Moreover, by exploring the potential to re-envisage what it means to be human, what it means to live well, and how we might do so together, this thesis advocates for a shift from sectors to systems and from dis/ability to humanity.

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