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Uniting the nation? disability, stem cells, and the australian media

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In this article, the 2002 Australian debate regarding embryonic stem cells is examined. This shows the importance of an analysis of the media to understanding how disability is constructed in discourses of nationhood and biotechnology. Media representation of disability--for instance, signifying disability as catastrophe--is seen as crucial in securing access to a variety of biotechnologies, such as embryonic stem cells. Analysis of such media moments shows a structure of privileged and excluded voices in debates regarding disability and biotechnology. The diversity of voices in the Australian community regarding disability is not represented in a range of media, nor are people with disability quoted as experts on disability. A recognition of the media's construction of disability must be matched by a commitment to disability as part of a truly civil society. It is only in this way that we will have biotechnologies, and diverse cultural and media representations that meet the requirements of the international disability rights movement motto of 'nothing about us without us', recently emphasized in the Disabled Peoples' International Europe's 2000 statement on biotechnology.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies University of Queensland Australia 2: School of Medicine University of Tasmania Hobart Tasmania

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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