In Cultural Locations of Disability, Sharon L. Snyder and David T. Mitchell trace how disabled people came to be viewed as biologically deviant. The eugenics era pioneered techniques that managed "defectives" through the application of therapies, invasive case histories, and acute surveillance techniques, turning disabled persons into subjects for a readily available research pool. In its pursuit of normalization, eugenics implemented disability regulations that included charity systems, marriage laws, sterilization, institutionalization, and even extermination. Enacted in enclosed disability locations, these practices ultimately resulted in expectations of segregation from the mainstream, leaving today's disability politics to focus on reintegration, visibility, inclusion, and the right of meaningful public participation.
Snyder and Mitchell reveal cracks in the social production of human variation as aberrancy. From our modern obsessions with tidiness and cleanliness to our desire to attain perfect bodies, notions of disabilities as examples of human insufficiency proliferate. These disability practices infuse more general modes of social obedience at work today. Consequently, this important study explains how disabled people are instrumental to charting the passage from a disciplinary society to one based upon regulation of the self.