Cross-Cultural Patterns of Disability in non-Western Societies

Sara W. Weiss, Rhode Island College


With significant exceptions disabled persons and their disabilities have rarely been considered a topic of study by anthropologists. In fact, references to the disabled are difficult to locate in anthropological literature. Specific disabilities, such as deafness, have been researched by Kuschel: (1973); Shuman (1980); and Groce (1983). Nevertheless, anthropologists have not focused on the disabled as a separate entity in society. Goffman's (1963) work on stigma and· the disabled remains an exception; important as the study is, it deals with only one aspect of disability. Until the disabled and their relationship with society is studied holistically by anthropologists and other social scientists, there will be a gap in the study of man and his culture.