Rethinking Citizenship, Self-Help, and Disability in Local Context: Solidaridad as disability citizenship in Nicaragua

Stephen Meyers


The concept of citizenship was instrumental to the formation of the disability movement in the West by recasting disability as the denial of equal citizenship of persons with impairments. The disability movement expanded notions of citizenship by not only focusing on nondiscrimination and the protection of civil and political rights, but also the necessity of self-directed, but state-provided, social rights as prerequisite for substantive equality. With the passage of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Western approaches to disability citizenship as state protected rights have globalized. Critical disability scholars are increasingly arguing that Western theories of disability, citizenship, and rights are inappropriate in local contexts in the Global South where weak welfare states are the reality. In such cases, self-help and mutual support are more determinative in the lives of disabled persons than formal rights. I extend these arguments by analyzing three grassroots disability associations in Nicaragua that assist their members achieve citizenship through self-help, service and solidaridad with the community.


citizenship; Nicaragua; disability movement; rights

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Copyright (c) 2020 Stephen Meyers

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