Integrating Disability in History Education

Author: Helen Snelson

One of the many wonderful things about EUROCLIO (the European network of history educators) is the opportunity it provides to meet and learn from other people with teaching and research interests and perspectives that challenge and inspire better practice. Thus it was, during a project meeting in EUROCLIO’s office in The Hague in 2017, when Dr Monika Baar came to share with us her work on the history of people with disabilities and the ‘Rethinking Disability Project’[i]. Much of the content of her presentation was new to me. For example, I did not know about the protests triggered by the UN’s intention to make 1981 the ‘Year for disabled people’. Nor had I heard of the 1990 Capitol Crawl that helped to bring about the US 1990 Disability Act, which has influenced legislative approaches beyond the USA. Search for an image of this event and you will see the powerful expression of physically disabled people crawling up the steps of the Washington Capitol building to powerfully demonstrate how they were excluded, literally and metaphorically, from US democracy. Monika stressed to us the importance of all people being able to know about their past. Why had I not seen this before? How had I been letting down my students, by not enabling them to learn about the historical context to our attitudes towards disability today? Were they ignorant of how hard the road has been towards our relatively positive attitudes? What of students with a disability, was the past relevant to part of their identity to be absent from my classroom?

The 2010 Equality Act passed by the UK Parliament places on all teachers a duty to nurture the development of a society in which equality and human rights are deeply rooted. For history teachers this poses the question: ‘Does our history curriculum reflect the diverse pasts of all people in society?’ and ‘Do all the children sitting in front of us have the chance to learn about people like themselves?’ And yet, the school history curriculum is so full already, so how could any more content be shoe-horned into it?

With food for much thought from Monika and various vague ideas, I went straight back to my inspiring colleague and friend Ruth Lingard back in York and we put aside some time to think and do some reading. As a result of this thinking and reading, we developed a lesson about the past of people with disabilities that included a timeline enabling students to identify change and continuity over time and the factors that shaped the change.[ii]

As a result of our reading we also discovered that disability and people with disabilities in the past were ‘hidden in plain sight’. For example, there is a famous picture of the 16th century English king, Henry VIII. It is of Henry and his family. However, there are two other people in the picture: Will Somers and Jane the Fool. Both of them were people with learning disabilities who were part of the Royal Household able to make the king forget his worries and to ‘speak truth to power in a way that other courtiers could not. Once we started looking, we found other people present in stories already told in history lessons, for example, Benjamin Lay, the Quaker campaigner for the abolition of transatlantic slavery who was also a dwarf. As a result, we have developed a format called a ‘slot in’. A slot-in is a knowledge rich worksheet about a character, or event, or place, which adds diversity to a topic and which can easily become part of existing lessons[iii].

We recommend these principled actions for history teachers working with disability:

  • Take time to gain knowledge and make connections.
  • Be prepared to admit to ignorance and ask for help from people who are knowledgeable about how to represent people with disabilities.
  • Make a review of existing teaching materials looking for where you can ‘slot in’ the disabled past despite the lack of time available due to an already very crowded curriculum.
  • Say something rather than nothing, enabling the voices of past people with disabilities to be heard.

This last point refers to a conversation we had over social media with Eugene Grant, a writer and campaigner with dwarfism, about the importance of positive role models in classrooms for people with disability. Grant wrote in the UK political journal ‘The New Statesman’[iv] in April 2018 about how he was 31 years’ old before he encountered the positive role model of Benjamin Lay, whereas, as a teenager he was faced with the appalling character with dwarfism ‘Mini-Me’ in the film ‘Austin Powers.’ We had mistakenly thought it might be better to downplay Lay’s dwarfism, but Grant encouraged us to put Lay’s dwarfism central to our ‘slot-in’.

Two years later and we have written an article about our work for the UK Historical Association’s journal ‘Teaching History’[v] and presented at two Historical Association conferences. We have produced resources for students in English schools including:

  • a timeline activity tracing changes in attitudes to disability in relation to changes in ideas about being human,
  • a timeline activity specifically focused on attitudes to mental health over time,
  • sources as evidence activities, including using records from the archives of the pioneering Retreat asylum opened by Quakers in the 18th century,
  • slot-ins on various people and places important to the story of disability and society,
  • and, of course, teacher guides for all of these.

These are freely available in downloadable format via the blog and we would be delighted if colleagues were to find them useful and to improve them.


[ii] This activities are all described and explained in an article for the UK Historical Association’s journal for secondary school history teachers. You can find it in volume 173 of Teaching History from the website:

[iii] At this link you can find the slot-ins we have developed so far:

[iv] Grant, E. (2018) ‘Abolitionist, activist, dwarf – we all need role models like Benjamin Lay’

[v] ‘Teaching History, 173: Opening Doors’ edition, Historical Association, London, UK (2018) – access via


Call for abstracts: Virtuous suffering: New perspectives on the Ethics of Suffering for Critical Global Health and Justice

$thumbnail_id = get_post_thumbnail_id($post->ID); $thumbnail_image = get_posts(array('p' => $thumbnail_id, 'post_type' => 'attachment')); if ($thumbnail_image && isset($thumbnail_image[0])) { echo ''.$thumbnail_image[0]->post_excerpt.''; }

Two-day workshop at Leiden University: 16-17 September 2019

Keynote speakers:
Jeffrey Flynn (Associate Professor, Fordham University)
Ruth Prince (Associate Professor, University of Oslo)

Can suffering be positive? Currently dominant discourses, primarily voiced through human
rights activism and humanitarianism, maintain the opposite: suffering, mentally and
physically, has to be avoided and where it exists, it has to be reduced. Global public health
approaches are at the frontline of this fight against suffering. Within and beyond public
health, researchers from a range of disciplines have inquired into the human experience of
suffering, primarily focusing on its negative dimensions, even though some have argued for
the importance of going beyond the suffering subject in order to look for resilience. But what
if people do not want to avoid suffering? What if they, for example, see it as an avenue for
self-improvement? How, when and why do people accord positive value to the suffering of
themselves or others, for example by transforming useless suffering into suffering for
something or through evaluating suffering as necessary purification? What is the role of
religion in such alternative valuations of suffering? And how are ideas of suffering
transforming through regimes of law and order in favor of severe punishments including the
infliction of pain? We propose that addressing these questions to critically assess dominant
perceptions of suffering is a much-needed contribution to (critical) global health approaches
in light of the ever-expanding use of humanitarian discourses both locally and globally.

The workshop will build on scholarship (in anthropology) on ethics and moralities that
articulate the productive potential of failure and suffering and critical (historical) scholarship
of human rights, humanitarianism, social justice and global health. We invite abstracts that
address one or more of the following themes from participants’ various thematic areas of
 Conceptualizing suffering: different discourses and the role of concepts and (non)
human actors
 Appropriating suffering: individual and collective practices and the role of religion
and social movements
 Ordering suffering: different relations between the ‘lived experience’ and the political-legal order
 Negotiating suffering: ‘local’ approaches to the ‘global’ governance of health and
 Researching suffering: theoretical, methodological and ethical reflections on the
articulation of disruptive and silenced voices

Original proposals are invited from anthropologists, historians and scholars from related fields
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 15
May to the following email address: Questions to
the organizers can be sent using the same address. Notification of acceptance will be given by
1 June.

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. The workshop is initiated by Annemarie Samuels (Institute of Cultural
Anthropology and Development Sociology) and Paul van Trigt (Institute for History) 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


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


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


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

Download the program here (pdf)


Wednesday  |  20 March  |  Location: Museum Volkenkunde


14:30-16:00 — Launch event DISPLACE

DisPLACE is an online platform with stories about living with disabilities. These stories are told from the perspective of people with disabilities and brought in an accessible way.

The main language of this event is Dutch, with ASL and NGT interpreting.

16:30-17:30 — Keynote lecture by Prof. dr. Pieter Verstraete (KU Leuven)

“Silence, history & identity: Reflections on the value of silence for persons (with disabilities)”

Pieter Verstraete is a professor in educational history and director of the Centre for the History of Education (Centrum voor Historische Pedagogiek) at Leuven University in Belgium.

Discussant: Sam De Schutter (Leiden University)

The lecture will be in English, with ASL and NGT interpreting.

18:00-20:00 — Film screening Doof Kind/Deaf Child

Deaf Child is a documentary film by Alex de Ronde in which he portrays the life of his son, a charismatic young man who happens to be deaf.

The language of the film is Dutch, with English subtitles.

Thursday  |  21 March  |  Location: Academiegebouw Leiden

There will be NGT and ASL interpreters throughout the whole day.


09:30-10:00 — Arrival & registration __ room 01

10:00–10:30 ­— Introduction by the organizers

10:30–12:00 — Panel stream 1

1A. Constructing & deconstructing disabled identities __ room 01

Chair: Andries Hiskes (Leiden University)

Sebastian Schlund (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel), Disability and identity construction through an intersectional lens

Akriti Mehta (King’s College London), Cripping Madness: Historicising the identities of persons with psychosocial disabilities in the Global South

Octavian E. Robinson (St. Catherine University), Construction of deaf culture in the US, 19th-20th century

1B. Disability & race __ Faculteitskamer Rechten

Chair: Sara Polak (Leiden University)

Esme Cleall (University of Sheffield), Tilly Aston (1873-1947): disability and identity in colonial Australia

Laurel Daen (College of William & Mary), Race, disability, and taxes in American history

Marion Schmidt (University Medical Center Göttingen), The “cripple as negro”: Leonard Kriegel’s “Uncle Tom and Tiny Tim” as a reflection on disability, minority and identity in 1960s America

12:00-13:30 — Lunch break

13:30–15:00 — Panel stream 2

2A. (Post-) Socialist visions __ room 01

Chair: Monika Baar (Leiden University)

Ina Dimitrova (Plovdiv University Paisii Hilendarski), Desiring economization: disability identities in Bulgaria and the work utopia

Cristina Popescu (Universität Bielefeld), (In)visible citizenships. A socio-historical approach to disability in Romania

Filip Herza (Charles University), Socialist humanism between a promise of social improvement and commitment to normative social order: Integration of Roma and people with disabilities in 1970s-1980s Czechoslovakia

2B. Intersecting identities __ Faculteitskamer Rechten

Chair: Anna Derksen (Leiden University)

Katarzyna Ojrzyńska (University of Łódź), Commemorating the disabled victims of the Nazi regime in contemporary Polish culture: Remembrance, empowerment, and responsibility

Hanna Lindberg (Tampere University), Constructing “the Finland-Swedish Deaf”: Deaf identification in the intersection of ethnicity and disability among the Finland-Swedish Deaf, c. 1950-2000

Raphael Rössel (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel), Gendered childhoods and disabilities in West German parental discourse from the 1960s to 1980s

15:00–15:30 — Coffee & tea break

15:30–17:00 — Panel stream 3

3A. Institutional witnessing __ room 01

Chair: Paul van Trigt (Leiden University)

Nathanje Dijkstra (Utrecht University), Making up disability? Disability benefit legislation and disability identity formation in cases of traumatic neurosis in the Netherlands (1901-1921)

Erwin Dijkstra (Leiden University), Governing identities: Interactions between institutional assumptions and the identity of the impaired

Jen Rinaldi (University of Ontario Institute of Technology), Kate Rossiter (Wilfrid Laurier University) & Siobhán Saravanamuttu (York University), The responsibility of the witness in institutional survivors’ testimonial & identity work

3B. Disability & the nation __ Faculteitskamer Rechten

Chair: TBA

Anna Derksen (Leiden University), Disability in postcolonial Greenland

Stephanie Wright (University of Sheffield), Rethinking war disability: the case of Francoist Spain, 1936-1975

Kateřina Kolářová (Charles University), Rehabilitative citizenship and the inarticulate post-socialist crip

17:30-18:30 — Keynote lecture by Prof. dr. Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova (NRU Higher School of Economics, Moscow)

“Dis/Abling the Russian Public Sphere”

Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova is professor in the department of General Sociology at the faculty of Social Sciences of the NRU Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Discussant: Anaïs van Ertvelde (Leiden University)

Venue: Academiegebouw Leiden, room 01

18:30-20:30 — Drinks & bites (aka ‘borrel’)

We will end the day in typical Dutch manner with a ‘borrel’, which means as much as having some drinks and bites. This will take place at the Hortus, which is located near the conference venue.


Friday  |  22 March  |  Location: Academiegebouw Leiden

There will be NGT and ASL interpreters throughout the whole day.


10:00-11:00 — Keynote lecture by Anahi Guedes de Mello (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina)

“My Cochlear Implant, My Crip Sex Toy”

Discussant: Gildas Bregain (EHESP)

Venue: Academiegebouw Leiden, room 01

11:00-11:30 — Coffee & tea break

11:30–13:00 — Panel 1. Disability protests __ room 01

Chair: Edit Zsadanyi (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)

Vassiliki Chalaza (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) and University of the Aegean), C. Tsakas (AUTh), K. Kavoulakos (AUTh), From charity to social welfare: Blind people struggle for their rights in post-dictatorial Greece (1974–89)

Magdalena Zdrodowska (Jagiellonian University), Deaf/Disability protests in present-day Poland and the 1980s-era US: The convergence of strategies and differences in demands

Gildas Bregain (Ecole des hautes études en santé publique), Representations of disability in disability protests in Latin America. Comparative study of the 1968’s and the period 2001-2018

13:00-14:00 — Lunch break

14:00–15:30 — Panel 2. Commemorations & representations __ room 01

Chair: Pieter Verstraete (KU Leuven)

Diane Driedger (University of Manitoba), Paintings, poems and pain: Forging a disabled identity

Natalia Magdalena Pamula (University at Buffalo), Bodies in motion: Disability, work, and masculinity in Polish 1970s and 1980s young adult literature

Karla Garcia Luiz (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina), The sexuality of people with disabilities on the cover of Sentidos Magazine: Inclusion or perpetuation of stigma?

15:30-16:00 — Coffee & tea break

16:00–17:00 — Wrap up


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: 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.

Call for Papers: Panel Provincializing Disability Rights. Transnational Histories of Disability in Asia

For the International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS 11, 16-19 July 2019, Leiden The Netherlands) we aim to organize a panel in which we explore the question how postcolonial thought could further inspire the writing of disability histories in Asia. In Provincializing Europe Dipesh Chakrabarty shows that the social and human sciences unconsciously reflect the so-called European intellectual tradition, in which global historical time is dominated by the ‘first in Europe, then elsewhere’ structure. In disability studies it is not Europe which is placed in this dominant position, but the Anglo-Saxon disability rights movement. The beginning of this movement is often situated in the 1970s and its main achievements are considered to be the development of the so-called social model of disability and the claim of equal rights. Until today the Anglo-Saxon movement is inspiring disability activists and scholars worldwide and is considered as an exemplary movement – as becomes e.g. clear from the framing of the United Nations Convention on the Right of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) which is rooted in this movement. Literature in disability studies frequently implies that developments in disability policy took place first in the Anglo-Saxon context and only then elsewhere, or that the Anglo-Saxon disability rights movement is at least a yardstick against which to measure progress.

We are looking for panellists who wish to present a paper about Asian disability histories that foster this intention of ‘provincializing’ by discussing questions like:

-how and why were disability rights in the Asian context influenced by (pan-)Asian understandings of human rights and how did these understandings influence international disability policies like the negotiations about the UNCRPD?

-what was the role of the exchange of ideas between self-advocacy groups between different Asian countries?

-how and why have activists and scholars in the Asian context used Anglo-Saxon disability concepts? How is this related to the use of concepts from other contexts? And how could Asian cases of disability self-advocacy be compared to cases from other places of the world?

If you are interested please contact us by sending an abstract of about 350 words no later than 9 September to the following email address: Questions to the organizers, Paul van Trigt and Monika Baar, can be sent using the same address.

Link ICAS 11:

Link research project Rethinking Disability:


Leiden disability studies lunch

The Rethinking Disability team invites all Leiden based scholars working on disability for a ‘Leiden disability studies lunch’! This lunch will take place on Wednesday 13 June 12.30-13.30 in the conference room of the Huizinga building, Doelensteeg 16 in Leiden. If you want to attend please send an email to:


Cleveringa conference: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Disability: The MENA Region in the Modern Period Cairo 25-26 November 2018

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Disability: The MENA region in the modern period

International Conference to be held on 25-26 November 2018


  • Leiden University
  • ERC Rethinking Disability
  • Embassy of the Netherlands in Cairo
  • Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo

Languages: English and Arabic (Presentations should preferably be in English)

Keynote Speakers

  • Dr Heba Hagrass (International disability consultant- Member of the Egyptian Parliament)
  • Dr Shaun Grech (The Critical Institute- Malta)
  • Prof  Monika Baar (Leiden University- The Netherlands)

Call for papers:

The socio-cultural issues concerning the lives of the persons with disabilities (PWD), their families and their environment present considerable challenges even in well-resourced regions of the world; let alone in countries experiencing certain economic or societal hardships. In either context, the study of the emancipation of people with disabilities cannot be undertaken without a broader enquiry into the historical, cultural and social contexts of the disabled citizens living in different times and locations around the world.

In recent decades, representatives of the emerging fields of medical humanities and disability studies have been constantly facing intellectual challenges arising from accelerating scientific developments in medicine and the bio sciences. These developments intrigued sociologists, historians, anthropologists etc. to dedicate more attention than ever before to the social and cultural aspects of the human body and human health. For instance, the enormous differences in health care expenditures across the world present an angle from which to ask questions about social justice, discrimination, exclusion, integration and the responsibility of the state or civil society towards certain groups with vulnerabilities. Disability is a concept around which social scientists can construct or deconstruct relations and representations between health and society, while scholars working in cultural studies may interrogate the formation of a distinct identity and sub-culture of people with disabilities. The MENA region with its cultural and historical peculiarities, and the Global South in more general terms, promises to be a very important location for analyzing how issues of physical and mental health intersect with social and economic concerns.

With a focus on the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region and the Global South, themes and topics of this international academic conference can include but are not limited to:

  • Disability and its perception(s) and meanings through history:
  • Disability in relation to technology: good practices and ethical problems
  • Islam and disability (physical and mental)
  • Education for and about the persons with disability: specialized institutions versus independent living, community-based rehabilitation (CBR)
  • Rights, representation and equality of PWD: strive for equality or demand for special conditions? (work, housing, access, education)
  • UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006):  given the local peculiarities, what challenges may occur in the course of its implementation in the MENA region?
  • Disability and welfare: what responsibilities should be carried by the state, by individuals, philanthropic organizations and by society at large?
  • Children, gender, women and sexuality  in relation to historic and contemporary issues of disability
  • International and regional organizations of disability groups: the MENA region in a global context
  • Disability figuring and images in literature and cinema
  • Stigmatization of PWD and strategies of de-stigmatization
  • Disability culture: arts, activities and self expression
  • Accessibility, integration and inclusion: PWD and the actual/virtual  public space in MENA

The conference is open to participants from the academia as well as for social activists and governmental representatives. An edited volume to be published by an international publisher is planned for selected research papers presented during the conference.

Presentations are welcome in English and Arabic but are preferred in English for practical reasons. Each presentation would be 20 minutes followed by a 10minutes discussion in a themed panel.

Proposals for cultural and artistic activities, whether presented by or about persons with disabilities, are welcome. The venue is accessible to participants and guests with disability.

Deadline:  Please send a 300-500- word paper/activity proposal in English or Arabic before September 1st 2018 to (

For requests of participation, paper proposal or artistic contribution, kindly send your CV to the email address above.

For inquiries or questions kindly contact Dr Amany Soliman

Limited budget for contributing to the travel and accommodation of international participants with outstanding proposals is available on a competitive basis. This is intended for those who are not eligible for funding from their home institutions and who are committed to contributing to the envisaged edited volume. Please indicate at the time of application if you would like to be considered for a subsidy.

Kindly find the Arabic description.

For more information, please follow the Twitteraccount.


Cleveringa Annual Conference

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Disability:

The MENA Region in the Modern Period

Cairo 25-26 November 2018

Venue: Italian Cultural Institute in Zamalek-Cairo


Day 1 Sunday November 25th 2018

Registration: 9:00 – 9:30 AM


Opening and Welcome Remarks: 9:30-10 AM

Dr. Rudolf De Jong

Director- Netherlands -Flemish Institute in Cairo

Dr. Paolo Sabbatini

Director- Italian Cultural Institute in Cairo

Prof. Monika Baár

Leiden University, the Netherlands


Panel I: Keynote Speeches

10:00- 11:30 AM

Dr. Heba Hagrass

Member of the Egyptian Parliament and International Disability Consultant

“Transforming the Reality of Persons with Disabilities in Egypt: A Look Forward”

Dr. Shaun Grech

Critical Institute-Malta

“Disability and Poverty: Engaging Critical Disability Studies”


Coffee Break 11:30-11:45


Panel II: Disability in Modern History

11:45-1:45 PM

Moderator:  Prof. Sara Scalenghe

– Dr. Gildas Brégain

Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, et L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique, France

“The Transformations of the Policies of Assistance to the Blind in North Africa during the 20th Century (Algeria – Tunisia)”

– Dr. Abdelwahab Shaker

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

“Forgotten Voices: The Egyptian Labor Corps, Disability and the First World War”

– Mr. Sam De Schutter

Leiden University, the Netherlands

“A Pan-African Rehabilitation Network: The Creation of the African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI) in the 1980s”


Lunch Break 2:00-2:45 PM


Panel III: Disability, Technology and Social Media

2:45- 4:00 PM

Moderator: Dr. Rudolf De Jong

– Dr. Heba Fawzi El-Masry

Tanta University, Egypt

“The Taboo of Disability in Egypt: A Sociological Approach to Intra-lingual Translation of the Concept of Disability on Twitter”

– Dr. Engi Aboul-Ezz

Beni Suef University, Egypt

“The Image of PWD in Social Media, and its Reflection on Egyptian Users in Daily Life”

– Mr. Mohamed Sobhi

Bibliotheca Alexandrina , Egypt

“Human-Computer Interaction to Design the Smart Education System (SES) for Visually Impaired Users”


Panel IV: Collective views on disability in the Arab World

4:00- 5:30 PM

Moderator: Prof. Monika Baár

– Prof. Sara Scalenghe

Loyola University, USA

“History of Special Education in the Arab World”

– Dr. Amany Soliman

Alexandria University and Leiden University

“The Arab Decade for Persons with Disability: Pan-Arab Civil Society Efforts and Disability Movements (1998-2014)”


Coffee Break 5:30- 5:45 PM


Panel V:

UNCRPD: Applications and challenges from the Arab World

5:45-7:00 PM

Moderator: Mr. Shaun Grech

– Dr. Majid Turmusani

UN disability consultant- Canada

“Challenges and Opportunities for the Implementation of CRPD in the Middle East: Insights from Iraq and Qatar”

– Dr. Riham Debian

Alexandria University- Egypt

“Into Arabic: UNCRPD’S Rights Discourse and the Politics of Interpretation in Translation”


Roundtable Discussion

Views from Western Europe: Interdisciplinary Studies of Disability

7:00-8:00 PM

Moderator: Mr. Sam De Schutter

– Ms. Anaïs van Ertvelde

Leiden University, the Netherlands

– Ms. Anna Derksen

Leiden University, the Netherlands


Day 2 Monday November 26th 2018

Panel VI: Disability in Arab Cinema and Literature

9:30- 10:45 AM

Moderator: Dr. Riham Debian

– Dr. Rasha ElGohary

Misr International University, Egypt

“The Story of Illness and Disability in Egyptian Movies”

– Ms. Basma Shelbaya

Cairo University, Egypt

“War, Violence and Disability in Literature: Comparative Texts from Syria and Europe”


Panel VII: Success Stories from the Arab World

10:45- 12:45 PM

Moderator: Dr. Gildas Brégain

– Dr. Ghaleb ElNahedi

Sattam Ibn Abdelaziz University, Saudi Arabia

“The Positive Impact of Including Students with Intellectual Disabilities: in Saudi Arabia Schools”

Taha Hussein Library for the blind and visually impaired

Bibliotheca Alexandrina- Egypt

Helm Foundation presented by Ms. Amena EL-Saie

“Society without Barriers”

NGO, Egypt


Coffee Break 12:45-1:00 PM


Panel VIII: PWD Training and Integration in Egypt

1:00-3:00 PM

Moderator: Dr. Majid Turmusani

Prof. Eman Mahfouz

Minia University- Egypt

“Linking Prevention and Equity Concept in Managing Disability”

Dr. Mai Eid

Aswan University, Egypt

“Towards Universal Design in Architectural Education in Egypt”

Dr. Dalia Elganzoury

Mansoura University, Egypt

“Civil Society and the PWD Community: Views from the Egyptian Delta”

– Mr. Ahmed Abouelsaad

Cairo University, Egypt

“Measuring/Analyzing the Inclusiveness of Schools from Architecture Perspective”


Lunch Break 3:00- 3:45 PM


Panel VIIII:

Disability between Islamic Shariaa and Civil Legislations

3:45- 5:15 PM

Moderator: Dr. Amany Soliman

– Prof. Hassan Sanad

Dean of the Faculty of Law, Minia University

“The Rights of the PWD between International Conventions and Egyptian Legislations”

– Dr. Mohamed Fawzi Abdelhay

AlAzhar University, Egypt

“Disability and Islamic Jurisprudence in Modern Times”

– Dr. Hamada Hassan

Minia University, Egypt

“From Islamic Shariaa to International Law: Protection of the PWD”


Panel X:

Religiosity and Disability: Applications from Muslim Societies

5:15- 6:30 PM

Moderator: Dr. Mohamed Fawzi Abdelhay

Ms. Bouchra Yahia

Radboud Nijmegen University, the Netherlands

“Islamic psychology: A religious perspective on human nature and mental health”

– Dr. Gihan Othman

Alexandria University, Egypt

“Religiosity and Emotional Balance: Application on Muslim PWD Egyptian Children”

– Ms. Hadil Lababidi

Friedrich- Alexander University, Germany

“Perspectives on Dementia in Islam”


Coffee Break 6:30- 6:45 PM


Cleveringa Annual Lecture

6:45- 8:00 PM

Prof. Monika Baár

Professor of History- Leiden University

Principal Investigator of ERC project: The Global Impact of IYPD 1981in Historical Perspective

“Historical Aspects on the Community Building, Integration and Quality of Life of People with Disabilities”

Introduced by: Dr. Said Fares

Leiden University Alumnus – Lecturer at AlAzhar University



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.