Agency and Independence: “It Is Not the End of the World!”*
The preceding chapters explored the inextricable connection of self- and societal perceptions of disability in Burkina Faso to notions of autonomy and economic self-sufficiency. Those disabled people who are more or less financially independent tend to identify less with being defined as disabled than those who are less autonomous. Among the former, there is also an emerging sense of disability affirmation and of non-tragedy. This chapter explores what lies behind this positive outlook and what leads disabled people to be autonomous and to assert their agency. Disabled people’s narratives—emerging through both the participatory video and other exchanges—reveal not only disabled people’s struggles in overcoming the hurdles they encounter, but also their views on how development can be more beneficial to them. Such narratives also point to the significance of intersectionality in understanding disabled people’s lived experiences, which the chapter explores through the various factors affecting disabled people’s life courses. The chapter ends with reflections on the way in which disabled people are challenging the images of passivity, but also on what such affirmation—often pushed forward by the more ‘elite’ disabled people—implies. It also looks at what it means for disabled people and DPOs to negotiate development interventions in a context where development ‘beneficiaries’ are ultimately dependent on the agencies (mostly INGOs) which intervene with them.
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