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Down Syndrome Culture

Life Writing, Documentary, and Fiction Film in Iberian and Latin American Contexts

Subjects: Disability Studies, Media Studies, Cinema Studies, Literary Studies, Modern Literature, Latinx Studies
Open Access : 9780472904556, 204 pages, 9 illustrations, 6 x 9, August 2024
Paperback : 9780472056910, 204 pages, 9 illustrations, 6 x 9, August 2024
Hardcover : 9780472076918, 204 pages, 9 illustrations, 6 x 9, August 2024
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Looking at Down syndrome representation from a global perspective

Table of contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Foreword by Michael Bérubé
Ch. 1.    Down Syndrome Culture
Ch. 2.    DS Life Writing
Ch. 3.    Disability Ensembles
Ch. 4.    Where is Down?
Ch. 5.    Interdependence and Individualism
Conclusion. Amplification and Interpretive Power


People with Down syndrome possess a culture. They are producers of culture. And in the 21st century, this culture is increasingly visible as a global phenomenon. Down Syndrome Culture examines Down syndrome alongside its social, cultural, and artistic representation. Author Benjamin Fraser draws upon neomaterialist and posthumanist approaches to disability as well as the work of disability theorists such as David Mitchell, Sharon Snyder, Susan Antebi, Tobin Siebers, and Stuart Murray. By particularly focusing on Down syndrome, he showcases the unique place that it holds as an intellectual and developmental disability—one that fits between the social and medical models of disability—within the disability studies field. 

Down Syndrome Culture also pushes the traditionally Anglophone borders of disability studies by examining examples in Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese-language texts, and incorporating the work of thinkers in Iberian and Latin American studies. Through a close analysis of life writing, documentaries, and fiction films, the book emphasizes the central role of people with Down syndrome in contemporary cultural production. Chapters discuss the autobiography of Andy Trias Trueta, the social actors of the documentary Los niños [The Grown-Ups] (2016), dancers from Danza Mobile, and a variety of fiction films, challenging ableist understandings of disability in nuanced ways. Ultimately, this book reveals the lives, cultural work, and representations of people with trisomy 21 in an international context.

Benjamin Fraser is Professor of Iberian and Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Arizona. 

Down Syndrome Culture is well-written, skillfully and seamlessly weaving references to existing disability studies theory and criticism of disability autobiography and film into Fraser's own insightful analyses of both written literature and films from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. Fraser introduces complex theoretical material and nuanced textual analyses in a way that honors their complexity while also achieving a remarkable clarity of expression.”

- Beth Jörgensen, University of Rochester

Down Syndrome Culture offers a close look at the work and lives of people with Down syndrome and their collaborators, successfully showing the unique aspects of Down syndrome through cultural representation.”

- Susan Antebi, University of Toronto