Book Review: Mental Handicap in S. Africa

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

Perspectives on Mental Handicap in ~ South Africa is a comprehensive and fascinating look at the status of mental handicap in a country persistently visible on the international scene for ostensibly very different reasons. Part history, part textbook, part polemic, the book challenges this safe and comfortable traditional separation between science and politics, on the contrary arguing that the two are inextricably mingled. For all of us who live in socioeconomically, ethnically and culturally diverse societies, the book provides a window onto a vista where the logical conclusions of such racial and economic separatism and inequality are enacted daily. In their vociferous acknowledgement of the connections between apartheid and racism on the one hand, and the assessment and treatment of mentally handicapped persons on the other, the authors take a radical and courageous leap. In perusing the text, it becomes abundantly clear how race and disability interact to perpetuate limitations and violations of human rights among this segment of the population.

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