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Disability Narratives & Histories

This seminar launched TORCH’s Disability and Curriculum Diversity series and foreground disability as a conceptual lens in narrative and social history. The lives of disabled people have often remained hidden in historical accounts of the Twentieth Century and cultural representation.

Professor Richard Sandell (University of Leicester) will speak on the role of museums in changing the way society perceives and understands disability and explore how the marked absence and invisibility of disabled people in museum and gallery exhibitions and interpretation can be overcome. Other panellists will include post-graduate, Helen Hillman (Queen Mary, University of London), presenting her research on the 1920s Voluntary Sterilization Movement and the influence of its propaganda on conceptualising the ’mentally-disabled’ and campaigns to sterilize individuals thought to be ‘mentally deficient’. In doing so, this seminar will render visible the way disability is socially and culturally constructed and the imperative for the Activism and Agency of disabled people to be presented in cultural institutions.

This event was chaired by Dr Marie Tidball (Faculty of Law, University of Oxford).