Who am I Now? The Value of Metis in the Construction of the Disabled Identity

No Thumbnail Available
Campos, Brielle Retha
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
My dissertation is written as a reflexive or narrative ethnography. I examine my own life experiences and interactions as part of a disabled subculture. This extends previous scholarship, reflecting on how society has propagated lies or myths about disability. Using my experiences and interactions I create a counterstory (Martinez) by using rhetoric as Jay Dolmage, author of Disability Rhetoric, suggests: by moving sideways instead of back and forth. Dolmage sees mētis as a rhetorical move which can or is used by disabled people. He defines mētis as “wise and wily intelligence.” Expanding on his definition, Lois Bragg describes a weaving motion in which métis loops back on itself. Using this definition, I metaphorically compare the way métis moves to snakes, Tai chi, and trickster figures to generate a new understanding of how métis works. This processed is contrasted with ableist rhetoric, which is often seen as marching forward in a straight and uniform line. Even when not attempting to perform, disabled people are always using rhetoric. Influences which can change the way disabled people rhetorically present themselves are examined through historical context and the medical and social models of disability. In this dissertation, I show how disability and disability studies are affected by rhetoric. I explore how ability (able-bodied people) and disability (disabled people) use rhetoric to their advantage, associating four types of ableist rhetoric with Tae Kwon Do, and the flowing, weaving motion of métis with Tai Chi and snakes. Third, I introduce a new definition of métis, which shows a way to embody disability and disability rhetoric. I make connections between the disabled experience and gender, using Kimberlee Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality. To demonstrate how these theories might be put into practice, I present two courses—one undergraduate and one graduate—which connect counterstory, métis, disability, and rhetoric. I conclude with plans for further research.
Access, Disability, Disability Rhetoric, Disability Studies, Metis, Rhetoric, Rhetoric