The ERC-funded project Rethinking Disability was featured in the Fȇte de La Science which was held on 11 October 2019 at Sorbonne University in Paris. Rethinking Disability is one of the ERC projects which was selected to collaborate with ERcComics, an ambitious scheme funded by the H2020 Innovation programme and coordinated by Sorbonne University in partnership with La Bande Destinée (a French Communication Agency), which exploits the power of visual storytelling to innovate the way in which European science is communicated. Ten episodes of webcomics were produced in the course of 2019 which available online on the ERCcOMICS website. The Sorbonne event featured a reading of chapters 2 and 3 from the webcomics in front of an audience consisting mainly of French high school pupils, and a discussion between project leader Monika Baár and artist Hélène Bléhaut on their collaboration, and lastly, questions from the audience were answered.
Some pictures of the event:
Call for blogposts: A Public Global History of the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981)
Since 2015 the European Research Council-funded project Rethinking Disability (http://rethinkingdisability.
The research by the Rethinking Disability team has covered several countries all over the world, but there are still a lot of countries, regions, organizations and communities about which we know too little. For this reason, we are launching a crowdsourcing initiative. We are hereby asking members of the public to contribute to this initiative by writing a blogpost, conducting or giving an interview, sharing relevant documents and visual materials with us or in any other way you see fit. We invite contributions also in languages other than English in which case we will offer individual arrangements for the translation.
Please send your contributions and queries to the email address: rethinkingdisability@hum.
Moreover, you can also reach us via twitter @ERC_Rethinking where we will also post updates about this initiative which will be launched on 2 December 2019 in the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam during an event marking the eve of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Virtuous Suffering: New perspectives on the Ethics of Suffering for Critical Global Health and Justice
- Venue: Leiden University, Kamerlingh Onnes Gebouw, room B016
Monday 16 September 2019
12.30 Keynote Jeffrey Flynn: What’s Wrong With Alleviating Suffering?
14.30-15.30 Panel 1 Negotiating suffering (chair: Victoria Nyst)
- “We always suffer from hunger and nakedness” Disability, social suffering, and international development in Kenya, 1940s-1980s (Sam De Schutter, Leiden University)
- Ambiguities of suffering and coping in Uganda, 1980s-90s (Yolana Pringle, University of Roehampton)
16.00-17.30 Panel 2 Marginal suffering (chair: Monika Baar )
- Adapting to suffering: the art and struggle of surviving everyday life with a disability in a ‘participation society’ (Ivonne Hoen, University for Humanistic Studies, Utrecht & Gustaaf Bos, VU University, Amsterdam)
- Social justice and people with intellectual disabilities in contemporary Ukrainian society (Hanna Zaremba-Kosovych, The Ethnology Institute of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)
- Pains from the Conflicting Views of Blindness: traditional cultural and scientific views of blindness versus the experiential views of the blind (Thomas Tajo, independent researcher)
18.30 Dinner with speakers, discussants and chairs
Tuesday 17 September 2019
- Faithful suffering and Christian humanitarianism in rural Zambia (James Wintrup, University of Oslo)
- Waiting at the end of life: the narrative navigation of care and suffering in Aceh, Indonesia (Annemarie Samuels, Leiden University)
- Appropriating Suffering: According Positive Value to the Suffering and the Consequent Realisation – A Case Study of Post-traumatic Growth of Individuals in Literature (Goutam Karmakar, Barabazar Bikram Tudu Memorial College)
- Destroying and creating subjectivity through suffering and pain at the end of life with dementia (Natashe Lemos Dekker, University of Amsterdam)
- Victimhood and the visibility of suffering in the aftermath of road accidents in Italy (Irene Moretti, Leiden University)
- The Suffering of the Violent, Entitled, and Powerful: Using Suffering to Avoid Responsibility (Allysa Lake, Fordham University)
- Suffering responsibility. Moral agency in court cases with disabled convicts (Paul van Trigt, Leiden University)
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.
If you want to visit a panel or keynote lecture (organized as lunch seminar), please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 www.yorkclio.com 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: http://www.history.org.uk
[iv] Grant, E. (2018) ‘Abolitionist, activist, dwarf – we all need role models like Benjamin Lay’ www.newstatesman.com/culture/film/2018/04/abolitionist-activist-dwarf-we-all-need-role-models-benjamin-lay
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:
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
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.
- 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
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: email@example.com. Questions to the organizers can be sent using the same address. Notification of acceptance will be given by the end of November 2018.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions to the organizers, Paul van Trigt and Monika Baar, can be sent using the same address.
Link ICAS 11: https://icas.asia/
Link research project Rethinking Disability: www.rethinkingdisability.net