Mental Disability and Social Value in Michelle Cliff’s Abeng

  • Drew Holladay
Part of the Literary Disability Studies book series (LIDIST)


Michelle Cliff’s 1984 novel Abeng critiques harmful reactions to madness and mental disability in colonial and postcolonial Jamaican society while also opening space for the inclusion and valuing of someone with a mental disability. In this chapter, Holladay examines four central characters in Abeng who have a mental disability and bear its stigma. Cliff’s portrayal of these disabled characters reveals a new picture of difference and créolité in Caribbean literature, showing that disability can serve as a productive analytical lens interconnected with issues of race, gender, and class. Abeng shows us that mental disability, and disability more generally, should be recognized as an essential part of the global project of social justice.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Drew Holladay
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA

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