Sketches of a citizen: An ethnography of learning disabilities, artmaking, and citizenship

Phan, Thu Thuy (2021) Sketches of a citizen: An ethnography of learning disabilities, artmaking, and citizenship. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Today, few people would contest the idea that people with learning disabilities are equal citizens, and that as such, they have equal political, civil, and social rights. But what does citizenship mean in the day-to-day lives of those who require extensive support to complete basic tasks, have limited verbal language, and have little to no prospects for independent living and paid employment? How is their citizenship lived? And how is it facilitated or hindered by those working with them?

Through an ethnography of an art workshop in Glasgow, UK, this thesis draws on anthropological perspectives to explore how abstract ideals of citizenship manifest in the everyday lives of people with learning disabilities who have high support needs. In my enquiry, I divert from normative and rights-based understandings of citizenship, in order to foreground alternative meanings that can be ethnographically derived from everyday practice and interactions.

This thesis explores the complexities of choice-making, independence, sociality, and social value through examples of artmaking with people with learning disabilities. It examines the material conditions, relational aspects, and affirmative measures that practicing citizenship requires. In doing so, it articulates more inclusive understandings of citizenship, whose implications do not only pertain to people with learning disabilities but are relevant for everyone.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supervisor's Name: Melville, Professor Craig and Watson, Professor Nicholas
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82304
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2021 15:29
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2021 16:13
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82304

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