Mar adentro: Haunting ability, masculinity, and human rights

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Ramón Sampedro, a former seaman and later poet, died in 1998. Now having passed the twentieth anniversary of his death, his work and life return to the spotlight with the attendant issues of disability, trauma, agency and end-of-life. The film Mar Adentro or, The Sea Inside (Amenábar, 2004), provides a lens with which to view some familial and cultural resonances of disability trauma. This paper critiques the ideological underpinnings of the film, suggesting that the film is haunted by ableist notions of the body. Garland-Thomson’s notion of the misfit (2011) is employed to illustrate how the central character is portrayed as a borderline figure between life and death. Kristeva’s abjection theory is used to illustrate how the beach is used as a borderline which demarcates the hero’s subject/abject position. This paper hypothesises that the use of the beach as metaphor and the use of Galicia as a ‘haunted’ space, encourages the audience to understand persons with disabilities as ‘neither here nor there’; rather, as ‘not quite human beings’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-109
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Abjection
  • Disability
  • Euthanasia
  • Galicia
  • Right-to-die
  • Spanish film


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