The Duty of Love: Kinship and Identity in the Face of Disability in Madrid


  • Marina Mateo University of Cambridge



kinship, disability, care, moral values


Life with a disability in Spain implies a constant struggle not just for the person with disabilities but also for their family, who must mobilise enough care resources to compensate for the lack of social support they receive. This paper focuses on the ways in which having a family member with a cognitive disability shapes kinship relations, and how the impact related to having a family member with a disability shapes the construction of the family unit as well as the identity of the able-bodied family members. I argue that the narrative of “unconditional love” within the family unit is what enables many families to naturalise the extra work involved in caring for a person with disabilities as part of what it means to be a family – and not as a chore. Care becomes the idiom of their love as it acts as a relational activity through which personhood is created. By humanising the child with disabilities in this way, care is accepted as a “natural” part of their kinship relations.