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Abstract

In this dissertation, I explore the way disability is coupled with other category formations in United Nations (UN) human rights monitoring practices. As a research question, I ask: How is disability combined with other identity markers in the monitoring practices of international human rights? To answer this question, I build on the theories of governmentality and intersectionality and construct the concept of entanglement. This theoretical framework focuses on the production, normalization, and rationalization of systems of differentiation. Based on this approach, I coded more than 3000 UN human rights documents and showed the recurrence and effects of three types of entanglement: additive entanglement, intersectional entanglement, and demarcative entanglement. Furthermore, I closely analyzed Colombia’s compliance with UN human rights treaties, exploring how disability finds space in the concluding observations, state reports, lists of issues, summary records of the proceedings, and civil society inputs. I claim that the study of these discursive arrangements reveals seven features of UN normative contexts. First, disability has not been a core category of difference in international human rights monitoring practices. Second, it is only once the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted that disability has become visible to UN committees. Third, entanglement has been a prevalent apparatus for the insertion of disability in the UN human rights monitoring practices. Fourth, this apparatus of inclusion endows categories with stable, inevitable, and fixed characteristics and properties. Fifth, it introduces disability without substantially altering the universal anchors of modes of subjectification. Sixth, UN human rights monitoring practices prioritize to the conjunction of disability with gender and age, while selectively ignoring its interaction with other ascriptive labels. Seventh, disability finds space in group listings, which atomizes differences by manufacturing connectivity, proximity, and homogeneity. All in all, I suggest that the analysis of the inscription of disability intersections in international human rights monitoring practices exposes the constitutive limits of identity thinking in institutional power contexts.

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