The evolving construction and conceptualisation of ‘disability’ in Bhutan

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This study – a year-long ethnographic exploration of disability and education in Bhutan – finds that two dominant discourses around ‘disability’ are entering Bhutan simultaneously: the discourse of the medical model of disability and the discourse of the social or human rights model of disability. In this paper, I argue that these two discourses are especially exposed in the Bhutanese context to be opposing forces in shaping local conceptualisation and construction of ‘disability’. By examining the Bhutan case, it can be seen that these kinds of disparate and contentious exogenous constructions of ‘disability’ occur everywhere in the world and negotiate with local constructions of ‘disability’ uneasily. Understanding the interactions of disability discourses in the Bhutanese context can help to understand the interactions of disability discourses writ large.


Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability & Society
Publication statusPublished - 2015