If you need anthropological perspectives on the US-election Obama-McCain, you’ll find them in the new issue of Anthropology News. One of the articles is about a study on voting, politicial participation and citizenship among individuals with psychiatric disability.
Many Americans are excluded from voting. Anthropologist Sara M. Bergstresser is conducting the study, using a “community-based participatory research framework". She writes:
The stigma of mental illness underlies taken-for-granted assumptions about some citizens’ ability to participate in the electoral process. Public discourse about disability in general, and psychiatric disability in particular, often retains historically- conditioned, biologized models of deviance and moral worth, questioning whether these individuals deserve to participate politically. Such assumptions share their origins with rhetoric that has accompanied many other social barriers to voting throughout the history of the US.
Taken-for-granted concerns about “capacity” to vote may well tell us more about societal levels of stigma than about individual neurological deficiency.
Just as health disparities have become an important focus of research in the United States, disability-linked disparities in social and political participation should also be brought to the attention of policymakers and researchers.