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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Historical analyses, as well as more contemporary examples of disability and work, show that the experience of disability is always culturally and historically mediated, but that class—in the sense of economic status—plays a major role in the way impairment is experienced as disabling. Although there is little published on disability history in India, the history of the Indian experience of caste disability demonstrates the centrality of work in the social and economic expression of stigma and marginalization. An Indian perspective supports the challenge to the dominant Western view that modern concepts of disability have their origins in the Industrial Revolution. Linkage between disability, incapacity to work, and low socioeconomic status are evident in India, which did not undergo the workplace changes associated with industrialization in the West.

Keywords: work, caste disability, untouchable, class, industrialization, India

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