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Biopolitics of Disability, Illness, and Animality (BIODIAL)

This project explores how certain human and nonhuman lives are constructed as less valuable than others in cultural, literary, and social representations of disability, illness, animals, and animality.

The Biopolitics of Disability, Illness, and Animality: Cultural Representations and Societal Significance (BIODIAL)

The interdisciplinary core of the project is to link disability and illness studies with animal and animality studies within the overarching framework of biopolitics, despite the fact that disability studies and animal studies have often resisted biopolitical intersections between them.

This theoretical background can illuminate cultural attitudes and problems related to disability, illness, and animality, as well as policy discussions and debates in the Norwegian public sphere and beyond.


This project seeks to advance research in the humanities and social sciences by further developing disability studies and animal studies and the ways in which these new interdisciplinary branches of inquiry intersect with key questions of biopolitics and bioethics.

It brings interdisciplinary and intersectional attention to the ways that certain lives can be considered somehow less than “human”—whether disabled human beings, or nonhuman animals, or dehumanized and animalized human populations. Biopolitics is a theoretical field that offers new ways of bringing together disability studies, animal studies, and posthumanism, including Foucauldian-inspired work on social constructions of “life” that have become politicized terrain. The result of these constructions include dominant discourses about which forms of life should be allowed to live or die, as well as stigmatization and discrimination based upon what is considered “normal” or “natural”.

These issues connect disability, illness, and animality to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and class, as well as educational policies, workplace conditions, and legislation regarding issues such as: discrimination, accessibility, accommodation, euthanasia, assisted suicide, abortion, prenatal testing, health care, vivisection, animal experimentation, factory farming, animal welfare, animal rights, and veterinary medicine.

The methodological focus of the project is critical discourse analysis of literary and cultural texts, analyzing representations of disability, illness, and animality in relation to broader social issues.


On cultural texts related to disability, illness, and animality, introduced by academics from different fields.

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The project is financed by The Norwegian Research Council (FRIPRO/FRIHUMSAM)


1 September, 2017, to 30 June, 2021.

Published Feb. 8, 2017 10:22 AM - Last modified Jan. 12, 2021 11:24 AM