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Vol. 3 (2022): Reverting the Gaze: Resisting Humanism & Hegemony in the West

Unmasking Intimacies of Death and Dying

August 31, 2020


This article was written during the early days of quarantine (circa Spring 2020) as a direct response to the concerns I and other disability justice advocates, and I began to feel around the treatment of disabled people amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief among these concerns was the killing and letting die of disabled folx, as well as other "expendable" persons, such as frontline workers. Grounded in a radical approach to disability justice, below I analyze the constructions of death, dying, and personhood during the start of the global pandemic through the lens of “bare life” and the “state of exception". Drawing on these concepts, I examine the Canadian state’s response to sickness as an invocation of catastrophe politics, something, which I argue, has led to an irrevocable change in how the deaths of marginalized populations, especially disabled folx, may be justified as inevitable, despite being completely preventable. These attitudes, which allow us to accept death for some and not for others, are another form of normalizing the culling down of life through state-sanctioned control. I thus conclude that COVID-19 has proven to be a state exercise in violence against “expendable” populations.