Saturday, November 03, 2007

Virginia Quarterly Review (Fall 2007)

I was browsing the new journals at the Huntington Library today--yes, that's what I do for a special treat on the occasional Saturday afternoon--and hit upon the Virginia Quarterly Review. I usually leave the literary quarterlies on the shelf, but I picked this one up, probably because it had a colorful cover (oooh, shiny). It was a special issue on "South America in the 21st Century," and two of the articles, which are also online, have disability themes:

Julio Villanueva Chang's "Through the Eyes of a Blind Mayor" (pp 15-37) is a profile of Apolinar Salcedo (pictured at left, in ceremonial sash and other signals of his office), the mayor of Cali, Colombia, who lost his sight in a childhood accident. He attended the Cali Institute for Blind and Deaf Children, and became a lawyer before going into city government.

Toño Angulo Daneri's "Aicuña is not an Albino Town" (240-263) is part photoessay, part journalism; the more interesting story isn't about the high rate of albinism in the remote Argentine town of Aicuña, but about the town's response in the face of outside attention to that local trait:
Ever since a Buenos Aires magazine called 7 Dias published a feature story on on Aicuña's albinos in the early eighties, the town's inhabitants have been wary of the press. The story's effect was immediate and, for them, unwelcome. People began to arrive hoping to meet albinos. They wanted to see them, photograph them, find out what they were like and how they looked, to discover what daily life was like in the town they imagined--one filled almost entirely by people with white hair and translucent skin... Ever since then the town has been protective of the albinos who live there, and evasive, even surly, towards outsiders.
Neither of these stories is written with explicit reference to disability culture or politics (and the latter author admits that he's asking exactly the prying questions that the townspeople detest), but they're well-written and worth checking out.

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