Misfits: A Feminist Materialist Disability Concept

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie

This article offers the critical concept misfit in an effort to further think through the lived identity and experience of disability as it is situated in place and time. The idea of a misfit and the situation of misfitting that I offer here elaborate a materialist feminist understanding of disability by extending a consideration of how the particularities of embodiment interact with the environment in its broadest sense, to include both its spatial and temporal aspects. The interrelated dynamics of fitting and misfitting constitute a particular aspect of world-making involved in material-discursive becoming. The essay makes three arguments: the concept of misfit emphasizes the particularity of varying lived embodiments and avoids a theoretical generic disabled body; the concept of misfit clarifies the current feminist critical conversation about universal vulnerability and dependence; the concept of misfitting as a shifting spatial and perpetually temporal relationship confers agency and value on disabled subjects.