Defining Pistorius

Amanda K. Booher


In 2008, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) defined Oscar Pistorius, a South African sprinter with double transtibial amputations, as both disabled and superabled in the course of his attempt to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. This paper examines the grounds for and effects of the constructed definitions of "disabled," "abled," "superabled," and "normal" through explication of the documents and pronouncements of the IAAF, as well as those in Pistorius' appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. While the explication demonstrates the power of definition in Pistorius’ case, this paper argues for greater specificity and malleability in definition construction in relation to bodies and technologies/prosthetics.


Ability; definition; disability; Foucault; Olympics; Pistorius; prosthetics

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2011 Amanda K. Booher

Volume 1 through Volume 20, no. 3 of Disability Studies Quarterly is archived on the Knowledge Bank site; Volume 20, no. 4 through the present can be found on this site under Archives.

Beginning with Volume 36, Issue No. 4 (2016), Disability Studies Quarterly is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license unless otherwise indicated. 

Disability Studies Quarterly is published by The Ohio State University Libraries in partnership with the Society for Disability Studies.

If you encounter problems with the site or have comments to offer, including any access difficulty due to incompatibility with adaptive technology, please contact

ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)