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Vol. 3 No. 2 (2020): Critically sick: New phenomenologies of illness, madness, and disability

Spatiality and Agency: A Phenomenology of Containment

  • Kirsten Jacobson
February 9, 2023


This paper offers a critical phenomenological view of the concept of access intimacy, a term coined by disability justice advocate Mia Mingus. Access intimacy refers to a mode of relation between disabled people or between disabled and non-disabled people that can be born of concerted cultivation or instantly intimated and centrally concerns the feeling of someone genuinely understanding and anticipating another’s access needs. Putting in conversation this notion of intimacy with Kym Maclaren’s critical phenomenological account of intimacy, I show how accessibility is not about what one person or institution can do for another but involves an ongoing, interpersonal process of relating and taking responsibility for our inevitable encroachment on one another in ways that enhance one another’s freedom.