In 2013, the European Union (EU) mission in Zambia made a public statement about its financial support to the LGBTI community. In panic and fear, LGBTI leaders urged the EU office to withdraw the statement and encouraged other foreign missions to instead offer discrete support to the LGBTI community. This anecdote is illustrative of the experiential gap between geopolitical groups confronting a similar policy issue. For the EU, the rights of LGBTI persons are universally important; for the LGBTI community in the Zambian context, safety and discretion are more important. This paradox illustrates the challenges facing the transnationalizing of disability policy. How could we explain the fact that transnational disability actors have for the last two decades been trying to disseminate disability ‘knowledge’ and norms in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) without corresponding social policy and ideational success? This article examines this policy and ontological discrepancy. Advancing a constructivist argument, the article contends that transnational policy diffusion, largely built on colonial legacies of universalizing Western knowledge paradigms, has preoccupied itself with political institutional engagements at the expense of engaging contextspecific sociological and ideological factors, resulting in sterile legislative exercises. To develop a truly SSA-relevant disability policy infrastructure, the article proposes ideational bricolaging and translation, a constructivist process of carefully adhering to and negotiating with context-specific ideational factors that inform the disability experience in SSA countries.
Disability & the Global South (DGS), 2018, Vol. 5 No. 1