Showing posts from October, 2017

Unleashing Public Disability History

By Daniel Blackie @daniel_blackie Imagine this: you’ve helped organise a wonderful workshop on disability history at a local community centre. Everything is going great. There’s a throng of people – mums, dads, children, grandparents – and they are really enthused and curious about the hidden history of disability. The human interest element of the workshop – let’s say the colourful life story of a long forgotten one-legged former miner – has had the desired effect. Folks are intrigued, so intrigued, in fact, they’re asking for tips about where they can find out more about this person’s life. You tell them you got the story from a digitised historic newspaper you read online at the British Newspaper Archive site. ‘Oh, that’s brilliant – you mean we don’t have to travel hundreds of kilometres to the British Library to read it’? ‘No, but you do have to pay a subscription to use the service: twenty pounds to read forty pages’. Mum then turns to her two young children and says

Apasmaaram and the Academic Pursuit of Disabled Pasts

By  Aparna Nair As Douglas Baynton pointed out, once you begin to ‘see’ disability, it is everywhere. 1 I never had to look too far. I do not possess particularlly lucid memories of my childhood. What I do remember is my childhood was punctuated and subsequently disjointed by the ebb and flow of epilepsy (‘apasmaaram’ in my language, Malayalam); as is often typical for the ‘unhealthily disabled’. 2 At the age of 11, I had my first, dramatic seizure. I don't recall much about the event, just brief flashes of pain, panic and confusion. Over the next seven years, I only had ten or so seizures and my epilepsy eventually responded to a cocktail of medications. While cushioned from the economic stresses of living with a chronic illness in India by the protections and privileges afforded to an ‘upper-caste’, middle-class family, epilepsy nonetheless proved to be quite cataclysmic. I remember people kept telling me I should have been grateful; grateful that I was only occasionally sic

A warm hug in the cold: The statue of Bo Östlin

By Matilda Svensson Chowdhury ”He was different, but dauntless” In the pedestrian zone in the cold Swedish town Hudiksvall, located at the coast to the Gulf of Bothnia and at the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska, there is a heated bronze statue. The snow that falls on it melts instantly. It also generates a different warmth, of the mental kind that makes people stop and think. The statue shows a man, an ordinary man in plain clothes, laced-up shoes, trousers, a shirt buttoned all the way up and a simple jacket with a zipper. He clasps his hands together in front of his body. On his head a hat with a New York Yankees logo. The man’s face looks relaxed, he faces the spectator curiously but a bit shyly, meeting everyone’s eyes with a hesitant smile. This is not a statue of an emperor, a God or a Founding Father of a country. Neither is it a statue of an anonymous nobody. In the midst of its plainness, this is a statue unique in its kind; it is (probably) the world's first pu