Exploring the intersection of critical disability studies, humanities and global health through a case study of scarf injuries in Bangladesh.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This article puts critical disability studies and global health into conversation around the phenomenon of scarf injury in Bangladesh. Scarf injury occurs when a woman wearing a long, traditional scarf called an orna rides in a recently introduced autorickshaw with a design flaw that allows the orna to become entangled in the vehicle's driveshaft. Caught in the engine, the orna pulls the woman's neck into hyperextension, causing a debilitating high cervical spinal cord injury and quadriplegia. The circumstances of the scarf injury reveal the need for more critical cultural analysis than the fields of global health and rehabilitation typically offer. First, the fatal design flaw of the vehicle reflects different norms of gender and dress in China, where the vehicle is manufactured, versus Bangladesh, where the vehicle is purchased at a low price and assembled on-site-a situation that calls transnational capitalist modes of production and exchange into question. Second, the experiences of women with scarf injuries entail many challenges beyond the injury itself: the transition to life with disability following the rehabilitation period is made more difficult by negative perceptions of disability, lack of resources and accessible infrastructure, and cultural norms of gender and class in Bangladesh. Our cross-disciplinary conversation about women with scarf injuries, involving critical disability studies, global health and rehabilitation experts, exposes the shortcomings of each of these fields but also illustrates the urgent need for deeper and more purposeful collaborations. We, therefore, argue that the developing subfield of global health humanities should include purposeful integration of a humanities-based critical disability studies methodology.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tupetz, A; Quirici, M; Sultana, M; Hoque, KI; Stewart, KA; Landry, M

Published Date

  • June 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 48 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 169 - 176

PubMed ID

  • 35501122

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9185814

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1473-4265

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1468-215X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1136/medhum-2021-012244


  • eng