Disability rights, music and the case for inclusive education

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Participation in music is both a human right and a disability right. Music is a human need in the Darwinian (not Social Darwinian) evolutionary sense. Similarly, inclusion is an evolved capacity, beneficial to human perpetuation. The policing of music resembles authoritarian regulation of other forms of allegedly pleasurable but actually vital human activities such as sexuality and gender expression, all related to disability in that the oppressed groups are also pathologised. The impact of denying musical rights to a pathologised population is demonstrated in the case of the New York City public schools, where Draconian cuts turned the entire city into a de facto, segregated special education programme, which gave birth to rap when students took music making into their own hands. By contrast, inclusive education is the appropriate response to material challenges, as illustrated with case studies from St. Paul, the USA, and the southern African nation of Lesotho.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-70
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • disability
  • inclusive education
  • poverty and education
  • race

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