10. Abstract

This dissertation explores how meanings are made around a queer Eelam Tamil fibromyalgic woman scholar's bodymind in biomedical and academic settings to excavate broader cultural relationships between chronic pain, ocularcentrism and the Euro-Western sensory hierarchy, the myth of objectivity, and submerged decolonial ways of knowing. This research interrogates how we think and talk about pain, how we engage each other about each other's pain, and how language, gesture, academic conventions, biomedicalization, and technological interventions into the body converge to standardize expressions and representations of pain that align with whiteliness and bourgeois civility. Using autoethnography, meta-ethnography, and disability studies approaches, I examine my analysis of my own pain — at critical moments of diagnosis, rejection, interruption, and rupture — as both a patient who is denied expertise and a scholar who is presumed to be an expert, to deindividuate the singular experience of chronic pain and recover what is desirable and resistive about the ontology of chronic pain and fatigue.

Each of the six kandams (chapters) in this dissertation deconstructs individual moments in how the Eelam Tamil fibromyalgic woman scholar is perceived and constructed as a failed body, both medically and academically, and how she subverts or exploits those constructions. The through line connecting them is a critique of the relationship between fibromyalgia and ocularity, particularly in the wake of digitization; the adequacy of linguistic and visual forms as the sole or primary sites of knowledge and meaning-making about chronic pain; and the notion that chronic pain can't communicate and that pain makes the fibromyalgic individual arhetorical. Ultimately, I develop what Morris (1991) contends in his study of pain: "We use pain almost as regularly — and sometimes as cunningly — as pain uses us. The hope lies in learning how to use it to better purpose" (p. 175).

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