By Susan M. Schweik

Within the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, municipallaws focusing on "unsightly beggars" sprang up in towns throughout the United States. Seeming to criminalize incapacity and hence delivering a visceral instance of discrimination, those “ugly legislation” became a type of shorthand for oppression in incapacity reports, legislations, and the arts.In this watershed learn of the gruesome legislation, Susan M. Schweik uncovers the murky historical past at the back of the legislation, situating the numerous laws in its old context and exploring intimately what the legislation intended. Illustrating how the legislation sign up for the background of the disabled and the terrible, Schweik not just provides the reader a deeper realizing of the gruesome legislation and the towns the place they have been generated, she locates the legislation at a vital intersection of evolving and volatile techniques of race, country, intercourse, category, and gender. additionally, she explores the heritage of resistance to the ordinances, utilizing the usually harrowing lifestyles tales of these most influenced by means of their passage. relocating to the legislation' newer heritage, Schweik analyzes the transferring cultural reminiscence of the gruesome legislation, interpreting how they've been used—and misused—by teachers, activists, artists, legal professionals, and legislators.

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Extra info for The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public (History of Disability)

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What meaning was it, exactly, that this man, in his guarded, strategic protest, is said to appreciate? 16 INTRODUCTION This book explores the meanings I discovered when I went to look for what lay behind, proceeded from, surrounded, and constituted the texture of this law. What the ordinance embodied was disability oppression deployed and embedded, ideologically and structurally, in classed, capitalist (and also gendered and racialized) social relations. Here “disability history” and “poor people’s history” profoundly intertwine.

With the infirm and the physically unable we might seem to have crossed into the terrain of ugly law. Not so. Infirm and physically unable persons, who live in what Livingston calls the overlap “between impairment, chronic illness and senescence” that constitutes “debility,” are by the Board of Supervisors’ definition not unsightly beggars (6). The infirm languish in Section 2 of the world of the San Francisco ordinance. Unsightly persons squat in the zone of Section 3, where our by now familiar language (“any person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed so as to be .

He did not speak. I thought this rather fine, in its way; except for his mutilation, which the man really could not help, there was nothing to offend the taste; and his immobile silence certainly was impressive. . I perceived that I had been the divinely appointed bearer of half a dollar to his mutilation and his misery, and . . I had embezzled the greater part of the money entrusted to me for him. ” For city dwellers in Howells’s position, the essay suggests, perceiving mutilation was as vexing as spotting a “sturdy” beggar.

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