The unfinished child

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2011
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- This thesis, written from the very particular perspective of an older sibling, comprises a personal account of one family’s experience with Down syndrome. By way of a series of interconnected essays, it draws upon the traditions of memoir, cultural studies, literary and art criticism, sociology and psychology to navigate its way around some of the classic pitfalls - such as a tendency to romanticise, pathologise or even fetishise the condition. Intimate, everyday relationships provide a kind of moral compass. The photographs of Diane Arbus and the writings of disabled activist David Hevey and former federal disability commissioner, the late Elizabeth Hastings, become important signposts along the way. The current medical and scientific push towards the eradication of Down syndrome through pre-natal testing and genetic engineering acts as a kind of creative crucible for the ideas and arguments expressed in The Unfinished Child. While not under-estimating the significant challenges faced by someone with this distinctive condition, or the extra physical and emotional workload shouldered by their family, this thesis suggests that it might also be seen as part of our rich biological inheritance and comes to the conclusion that its genetically-engineered absence could upset the social ecology in ways as yet unimagined.
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