In the epilogue, McRuer discusses how the specters of globalization are haunting disability studies” (199). This statement speaks to disability studies in relation to postmodernism. Postmodernism offered an escape from the reductionist mode of thought by advocating that “the body and identities around the body [are] socially constructed and performative” (Davis, 13).
Our world is a socially created and socially mediated construction. Culture is prior, present, and future to us because we are born into culture, experience culture, and create culture. Culture assumes a kind of truth value because culture shapes our interactions with the world and contributes to the reality by which we structure our social lives. As such, culture, as a social product, positions us in the world as subjects and contributes to the construction of our identity. Yet, in accordance with Hegel, our “error” is “failing to recognize culture as a human product”. We tend to forget that culture is an artificial human creation and begin to unquestionably and unconsciously regard it as our natural reality through processes of normalization.
Problems surrounding disability can be expressed using an analogy that deals with globalization and commodities. We live in an age where culture is significantly impacted by materialism and consumption. We ascribe value to cultural commodities, thereby empowering these artefacts and enlisting them as part of a global cultural discourse. This commodity culture shapes the environment in which we live. Commodity culture is fueled by capitalism. The nature of capitalism functions to reinforce hegemonic powers because the dominant powers control the production of commodities which are then consumed, leading to more being produced and creating a recursive cycle of production and consumption. So in many ways we are still trapped by modernism. Yet Davis states that “disability may turn out to be the identity that links other identities, replacing the notion of postmodernism with something [he wants] to call ‘dismodernism’” (13-14). Dismodernism has the potential to counter the problems of postmodernism and dissolve problematic power structures associated with modernism in relation to disability. Davis notes how disability is an unstable category that is a subset of an unstable identity in a postmodern era (25). He proceeds to acknowledge that “[w]hat dismodernism signals is a new kind of universalism and cosmopolitanism that is reacting to the localization of identity. It reflects a global view of the world” (27).
Countries all possess unique nationalities and, as such, are culturally divergent from one another. The same applies to different individuals, such as women, minority groups, and the disabled. Groups such as these cannot be merged into one category that accurately reflects their unique subject positions just as countries all possess their own unique subject position. With globalization, however, cultures are becoming integrated with one another because the local and global are converging. Nations have become increasingly independent and interconnected through the process of globalization. The expansion of global linkages has compressed space and time, causing the once distant and inaccessible to become proximate and accessible. The same holds true for identity constructions. Identity “categories” are experiencing increasing intersectionality. To better understand one group we can express it with the help of another group’s identity project. The exchange of local cultures through the global interactions of geographically disparate people has produced a seemingly global consciousness and global culture. This notion speaks to the increased awareness of subjugated identities which has, in a sense, produced a global consciousness in addressing their oppression.
However, this production of a global consciousness has threatened to result in extreme merger of identities. So the question remaining is what actually unites the world to make this consciousness and culture global? Just as what actually unites identities, in the local sense, to produce this global sense of identity? The convergence of the local and global is arguably realized through commodity consumption because the consumption of commodities positions the local within the global and the global within the local. So what positions disability in a global context as well as a local context, and what forces mediate this convergence? And how is a balance maintained then between expressions of individual identity, the local, and the group identity, the global? If the balance is not maintained, we will only deaden both the local and global, the individual and group identities, because differences will be dissolved through assimilation.