Maimed, Disabled, Enslaved as Commodity: Child Maiming in the Lens of Critical Consciousness

Annals of Philosophy, Social and Human Disciplines 2023 (1):1-17 (2023)
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This essay seeks to acknowledge the unsettling reality of children being intentionally maimed towards disability and disfigurement as economic commodity. The issue is easily invisibilized in modern education, and understandably so: the trauma triggered by these bloody realities can automatically disqualify the content for formal in school education as a form of “unwelcome truth”. Freire and Fanon, however, did not shy away from the horrific state of life for the oppressed and the wretched in their consideration of pedagogy. The lived experience of maimed children is tragic, but it is lived experience nonetheless – acknowledged by hooks as “a way of knowing that coexists in a non-hierarchical way with other ways of knowing” (2014). In other words, this knowledge exists but is arguably not mobilized by society towards action. Critical consciousness, upheld by Freire as the key to seeing inequality to act upon it, is a goal beyond reach for the maimed children themselves. Here, we consider the extension proposed by Nicholls (2011), who discusses pedagogy of the privileged as an equally important parallel towards collaborative action against long-standing inequalities. In the context of these children having minimal access to education, we contend that privileged students must be the ones to carry forth the knowledge towards their own critical consciousness. Specifically, we explore what acknowledging children who are maimed could offer towards pedagogy, in relation to helping students to 1) minimize the act of “othering” in a global community; 2) reconsider the role of mass-media and media literacy in their critical consciousness; and 3) move away from surface-level, performative charity against societal inequalities.

Author's Profile

John C. H. Hu
University of Alberta


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