Too Much or Too Little? Paradoxes of Disability and Care Work in India

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Nandini Ghosh
Supurna Banerjee


care, disability, feminization


The notion of care often normalizes within it violence that can have devastating effects on the lives of disabled people. Cripping care critiques the normalization of such notions of care. This paper articulates this paradox of care within the lived experiences of disabled girls and their mothers as primary carers. Through extensive case studies of young, disabled girls and their carers in villages of West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Odisha in India—where abject poverty, lack of resources, and a dearth of sensitized social relationships remain entrenched—this paper problematizes care relationships, moving beyond social model approaches to include understandings from the Global South of what it might mean to crip care.  The paper explores care relationships within the family, which valorize the emotional and physical labor of women in the garb of motherhood while negating the personhood of disabled daughters. While the care relationship between mother and daughter is enhanced by the affective bonds of empathy, emotional responsiveness, and perceptual attentiveness that transform intimate tasks into relationships of trust and demonstrations of trustworthiness, in the unforgiving realities of rural poverty in India the collective act of survival of such families needs to be contextualized within the debates about cripping care.
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