In this talk, I attend to the ways that touch is central to life in Catholic and Pentecostal institutions for disabled people in central Uganda. I call this “being in touch.” With this, I mean to emphasize how touch, tangibility, and bodily proximity suture certain forms of life into existence—forms of life which would not otherwise exist. I trace ways that touch draws extraordinary minds, bodies, and ways of being together and apart, assembling persons while giving rise to novel forms of disability collectivity and singularity. I consider how touch underpins ethics and care, and how it sustains human lives as well as how it may threaten them. I conclude by reflecting on the political stakes of this instance of being in touch, particularly with respect to disability law and activism in Uganda.
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About the Speaker
Tyler Zoanni is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. He is currently finishing a book about disability and personhood in Uganda, while starting new research on the politics of population in Africa. More generally Tyler’s research interests include politics, religion, aesthetics, medical anthropology, and visual anthropology, with a focus on East/Central and Indian Ocean Africa. Tyler holds a PhD from New York University and recent publications include edited collections in Cambridge Anthropology and Somatosphere and other articles in Medical Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Anthropological Quarterly.