Upcoming events


Cleveringa Lecture 2018

Cleveringa Lecture Prof. Dr Monika Baar

Monika Baar has been invited by the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo to give the Cleveringa lecture of 2018 on 26th of November. Her lecture is entitled ‘Historical Aspects on the Community Building, Integration and Quality of Life of People with Disabilities’.

More information on the event and the procedure of registration can be found in the invitation below:

Cleveringa lecture Invitation 2018


CfP: Criptic Identities. Historicizing the identity formation of persons with disabilities across the globe


Leiden University, Institute for History, 21 – 22 March 2019

Call for Abstracts

In recent years, ‘identity politics’ has evolved as a controversial, but also prolific concept within political, academic and activist debates. A growing body of literature sheds light on different assumptions about identity as a concept that is as much related to expressions of individuality and subjectivity as it is to specific social groups, typically described as outsiders on the margins of society and the political mainstream. Various groups like women, ethnic minorities, queer or elderly have strategically used identity as a tool for creating a common culture and gaining agency to bring about social change (Bernstein 2005). Against current discussions – are identity politics still valuable, and if not, what could be the way forward for political organizing as well as more personal processes of emancipation – this workshop wants to delve into disability as an identity.

Historically, disability politics have included both the professional and institutional negotiation of individuals as socially ‘deviant’ and ‘unfit’, as well as organized collective action from within communities of persons with disabilities themselves. How did these differing identities of disability come about? And of equal importance, in which ways did disability not become an identity? What kinds of identity formation processes can we detect in different societal contexts as well as cultural settings, and do these follow comparable or diverging trajectories?

As Julie Livingston (2006) has pointed out: « As disability history and disability studies increasingly open up to non-Western histories, opportunities arise not only for gaining new empirical knowledge but also for rethinking the very categories that underlie the socially constructed models [of disability] on which so much analysis rests. Botswana is different from the United States or France. Yet these countries’ histories are entangled in one another in complex ways that we have yet to even begin to unpack.»

This begs the question of how to take into account specific local contexts, transnational entanglements and exchanges, as well as intersectionality with other ‘identities’ like gender, class, ethnicity or age? What have historical examples beyond the dominance of Anglo-Saxon narratives to offer to the thriving field of disability studies? With this workshop, we hope that new, evidence-based studies on the identities of disability and ‘the disabled person’ from various places around the globe will not only shed light on historical conceptualizations, but may provide new reflections and insights on how we as scholars conceptualize disability today, and in which ways these two might be related.

Confirmed speakers

  • Anahi Guedes de Mello / Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil
  • Elena R. Iarskaia-Smirnova / NRU Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
  • Pieter Verstraete / KU Leuven, Belgium

We welcome original proposals that analyse the history of disability perceptions, expressions and identity formation processes within, beyond and across nation states and different cultural settings. The workshop is not confined in focus to any region, but encourages studies on areas that remain underrepresented in disability history, in particular Eastern Europe and the Global South.

A publication is envisaged on the basis of a selection of the papers presented during the workshop. However, the willingness to contribute to the publication is not a precondition for participation.

Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • collective identities of disability, e.g. in the form of social movements, organizations, protests, communities and religious institutions
  • cultural constructions and productions of disability, by persons with disabilities themselves and about persons with disabilities
  • knowledge production, by persons with disabilities themselves, by government experts, academics or medical professionals
  • disability in colonial and postcolonial settings, the Cold War, international development, neoliberalism and globalization
  • disability in the context of health and rehabilitation, education, livelihoods, indigeneity

Submission guidelines

Applications are invited from historians and scholars from related fields working on the nexus of disability and identity at any stage of their careers and with diverse geographical backgrounds. We aim at providing an informal setting in which selected participants will present their research (up to 20 minutes) and engage in an open exchange of ideas and perspectives. If you wish to participate in the workshop, please send an abstract of about 350 words and a short CV no later than 1 November 2018 to the following email address: rethinkingdisability@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Questions to the organizers can be sent using the same address. Notification of acceptance will be given by the end of November 2018.

Other practicalities

The conference will take place at Leiden University, in close vicinity to Amsterdam Airport (Schiphol). Catering will be offered to all selected participants at no cost, but participants will be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses. If you have any specific (accessibility) requirements, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate such requests. A small number of bursaries might be available on a competitive basis, an opportunity particularly intended for junior scholars and those without research funds from their own institutions. Please indicate when submitting your abstract if you would like to be considered for subsidy.


The workshop is initiated and hosted by the research team of the ERC project ‘Rethinking Disability: the Global Impact of the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981) in Historical Perspective’, based in the Institute for History at Leiden University.

The Call for Papers can be downloaded in pdf-format here.


KNHG Voorjaarscongres 2018

Op 26 april a.s. zal ons Voorjaarscongres 2018 plaatsvinden in het Nederlands Openluchtmuseum te Arnhem. In dat museum is sinds het najaar van 2017 de Canon van Nederland tentoonstelling te zien waarin hoogte- en dieptepunten van de Nederlandse geschiedenis getoond worden in vijftig vensters.

De recente discussie over het leren van het Wilhelmus, het canon-boekje voor alle schoolverlaters  én het verplichte schoolbezoek aan het Rijksmuseum, aangezwengeld in de debatten rondom de Tweede Kamer-verkiezingen, getuigen van een veranderende opvatting over de rol van erfgoed. Nu is dit nieuwe perspectief op erfgoed en verleden zelfs vastgelegd in het regeerakkoord van Rutte III. Willem Frijhoff schreef al in 1992 in een artikel in de BMGN dat het verleidelijk is om cultureel erfgoed te zien als grondbestanddeel van de groepsidentiteit. In dat zelfde artikel waarschuwt hij de historicus waakzaam te zijn wanneer nationale identiteit een uniek en allesomvattend karakter krijgt aangemeten. Zoals in dit geval de ‘Nederlandse identiteit’ met de daaraan toegekende waarden en normen die een ieder in Nederland moet kennen. Omdat, zo betoogde Frijhoff,  ‘de overdracht van dat erfgoed en de perceptie ervan worden gestuurd door het maatschappelijk en culturele spanningsveld in het heden’.

Programma en aanmelden

Uit de reacties op onze call for proposals hebben wij een divers programma samen kunnen stellen, met lezingen, panelsessies én een bezoek aan de canontentoonstelling. De keynotelezing “Kasteeltijd: over de geschiedenis van nu en het historiseren van toen” wordt verzorgd door Susan Legêne (Vrije Universiteit). Tijdens het slotdebat zal dagvoorzitter Martine Gosselink (Rijksmuseum)  in gesprek gaan met een panel over “Canonisering en nationalisering van de geschiedenis”.

Paul van Trigt (van het Rethinking Disability Team) zal samen met Corrie Tijsseling een presentatie geven over het Digital Disability Archive.

Klik hier<https://knhg.nl/bijeenkomsten/knhg-voorjaarscongres-denkend-aan-nederland-erfgoed-canon-en-nationale-identiteit-in-politiek-onderwijs-en-media/> voor het volledige programma en aanmeldformulier.


Lecture by Samuel Moyn (Yale University), 13 June 2018

We are pleased to announce that Yale University professor of law and history Samuel Moyn will be giving a lecture at Leiden University on June 13th. The renowned scholar in the field of European intellectual history and human rights history will be discussing the relationship of human rights law and movements to their global economic context between the successive eras of national welfare states and of neoliberal globalization.



Masterclass by Davide Rodogno (The Graduate Institute, Geneva)

This masterclass is part of the two-day workshop ‘Historians without Borders: Writing Histories of International Organizations’. This workshop is organized by the ERC project ‘Rethinking Disability’ and sponsored by the Huizinga Institute. It is intended to bring together early-career researchers from different fields working on international organizations, to discuss methodological challenges together with peers and established scholars and aims at providing an informal and interactive setting for the exchange of ideas and perspectives. (more…)


International Organizations and their Historians: Dealing with the Kaleidoscope – Public lecture by Corinne Pernet (University of Geneva)

Thursday 22 March, 17h30-18h30 – Leiden University

As part of the two-day workshop ‘Historians without Borders’, Corinne Pernet (University of Geneva) will be giving a public lecture on Thursday 22 March at Leiden University. The lecture will start at 17.30 and takes place in the Lipsius Building, room 147. Alanna O’Malley (Leiden University) will act as chair. The lecture is open to everyone, but registration is required by email to rethinkingdisability@hum.leidenuniv.nl. (more…)


Historians without Borders: Writing Histories of International Organizations

Leiden University – 22-23 March 2018


Practical information

This workshop is organized by the ERC project ‘Rethinking Disability’. It is intended to bring together early-career researchers from different fields working on international organizations, to discuss methodological challenges together with peers and established scholars. A combination of a master class, keynote lectures, and roundtable discussions aims at providing an informal and interactive setting for the exchange of ideas and perspectives. (more…)


Guest lecture by Anaïs Van Ertvelde: Good cripple, bad cripple. An introduction into critical disability studies

8 December Anaïs Van Ertvelde will give an introductory guest lecture on critical disability studies at the University of Gent. The lecture is part of a course for BA and MA students in literature, philosophy and sociology programmes. The lecture will deal with the shifting meanings and perceptions of disability since World War II, the evolution of disability activism, and the response of scholars in disability studies to these developments.


EAHMH Conference in Bucharest, 30 August – 2 September 2017

Anna Derksen will present her paper: ‘The Disabled Body, Citizenship and Social Belonging: The International Year of Disabled Persons (1981) and Its Impacts on Welfare Policies and Civil Rights Debates in the Nordic Countries’ at the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health Conference on The Body Politic: States in the History of Medicine and Health.

The conference will be hosted by the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in  Bucharest, Romenia from 30 August – 2 September. Link to conference website: http://eahmhconference2017.ro/general-information/