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Passing strategies and performative identities: coping with (in)visible chronic diseases

Passing strategies and performative identities: coping with (in)visible chronic diseases

Spratt, Tanisha ORCID: 0000-0002-5229-6435 (2019) Passing strategies and performative identities: coping with (in)visible chronic diseases. Journal of Medical Humanities. ISSN 1041-3545 (Print), 1573-3645 (Online) (doi:

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In this article I consider the role of passing and performance in the everyday lives of alkaptonuria (AKU) and vitiligo patients. Race, LGBTQ, gender and disability scholars have long used the term passing to describe sub-groups of people within marginal populations who intentionally manipulate their bodies or alter their behaviour in order to claim identities that are not socially assigned to them at birth. In this paper I demonstrate the effectiveness of the passing strategies that patients use in order to mitigate their disease symptoms and render them invisible, thus enabling them to pass as “healthy” or unaffected by their condition. I further consider how patients who choose not to pass utilise resistance strategies in order to generate awareness of their disease and encourage funding for it. I conclude by assessing the effectiveness of these strategies in determining whether or not patients can pass, and the ways in which this is aided or hindered by their social and economic status.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Uncontrolled Keywords: Passing; body image; identity; race; embodiment; chronic illness
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2021 02:36

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