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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Different Bodies, Different Lives: the Experience of Persons with Disabilities in Lebanon
by Loutfy, Mohammed Ali, Ph.D., American University, 2019, 393; 27543497
Abstract (Summary)

The world today witnesses increasing recognition and a more positive reception towards disability. Despite this recognition, persons with disabilities continue to share experiences of stigma and discrimination. Based on this observation, I raise the following questions: 1) To what extent have the recent developments regarding disability rights put an end to the long-existing problems of stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities? To what extent have programs promoting disability rights and inclusion succeeded in transforming the lives of persons with disabilities? 2) How can we best understand the roots and aspects of problems of stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities? 3) How have different models of disability services programming and activism interacted with existing attitudes and discrimination toward the disabled? How have persons with disabilities responded to these problems? How have these problems influenced their lives?

To answer these questions, I conducted an anthropological study identifying the roots and aspects of the problems of stigma and discrimination against the disabled. Choosing Lebanon to undertake an ethnographic research, I conducted fieldwork to collect data about the Islamic Orphan House and the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union as representatives of two major approaches on disability, i.e. disability institutionalization and disability rights advocacy. To examine the experiences of persons with disabilities with these approaches, I conducted focus groups, individual interviews, and participant observation.

Focusing on experiences regarding the rights of education, employment, and health care and social assistance, I concluded with the following findings. The prevailing inspiration of the religious discourse on disability continues to form a major hurdle in promoting disability rights and inclusion. Professional and grassroots organizations pursuing disability rights advocacy continue to face the powerful position of institutions that maintain the traditional policy of segregation. The dilemma of choosing between service provision or advocacy remains a major issue that determine the relationship between persons with disabilities and relevant organizations and institutions. The dependence on international funding verses local resources and the dynamics of Global South - Global North relations remain critical factors for research efforts in promoting disability rights and inclusive development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Koenig, Dolores
Commitee: Leap, William L., Sarhan, Randa, Rashid, Khadija
School: American University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 81/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Disability studies, Sociology, Social work, Religion
Keywords: Advocacy, Capitalism, Development, Disability, Institutionalization
Publication Number: 27543497
ISBN: 9781392624012
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