The Body, the Earth. The Participation of Disabled People in the Environmental Discourse




Disability, mermaid, Hanna Cormick, witness, climate crisis


The essay aims to challenge the position of disability within environmental analyses and activism. I explore the broad environmentally focused discourse: namely, I will refer to the sociocultural texts, ideologies and worldviews that are implicated in the accounts of the environmental crises provoked by climate change. Which subjects have a voice, and which tend to remain in the background? Should the environmental discourse be understood as “neutral”, because of what is at stake on a global level? I will consider these concerns through the lens of disability. Firstly, I will explore how disability usually functions as a signpost for two issues: (I) disabled people are represented as victims of the precarious living conditions exacerbated by climate change and environmental devastation and, (II) disability is employed as a cautionary tale regarding the outcomes of environmental devastation. Secondly, I will examine a performance called “The Mermaid”, by Australian artist Hanna Cormick, which addresses the intersection of disability and environmental damage. I will read Cormick’s work through Donna Haraway’s concept of witness, proposing an update of environmental discourses. The aim behind this new framework is to positively situate disabled people: they should play an active role in addressing toxicity, capitalist extractivism and the entangled nature between the human subject and the environment.




How to Cite

Montalti , C. . (2024). The Body, the Earth. The Participation of Disabled People in the Environmental Discourse. Journal of Ecohumanism, 3(1), 31–43.



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