CfP: Hidden Worlds: Histories of Disability Things and Material Culture

We are inviting submissions for a hybrid (online and in-person) workshop Hidden Worlds: Histories of Disability Things and Material Culture, taking place in September 2023. Abstracts are due May 1 2023.

Hidden Worlds: Histories of Disability Things and Material Culture

For over two decades, historians of disability have called for greater engagement with material culture (Katherine Ott, David Serlin, and Stephen Mihm). Responding to this call, they have extensively examined prosthetics and wheelchairs, focusing on the processes of rehabilitation and design. Recently, the Crip Technoscience Manifesto (Aimi Hamraie and Kelly Fritsch) has encouraged historians to consider how disabled people have played more active roles in hacking, tinkering and re-purposing the material artifacts that have animated their everyday lives. The focus on disability things (Katherine Ott) is a strategic attempt to centre how users lived with these ‘things’ and to broaden what historians usually consider as technologies. We want to encourage papers to think critically about the artefacts that have constituted the everyday lives of disabled people, and to explore conventional disability technologies in new and creative ways. 

Topics may address, but need not be limited to, the following broad themes: 

  • Tinkering architecture to build accessible worlds   
  • Assistive and Health Technologies (including resistance and non-use)    
  • Re-purposed/modified mundane artefacts (anything from beds to Tupperware)   
  • Improvised, bespoke solutions  
  • Tacit and embodied knowledge   
  • Negotiations, power and social hierarchies
  • Diverse roles of disabled people throughout a technology’s life cycle.   

Practical Details  

Titles and abstracts (300 words maximum) as well as general queries should be addressed to Neil Pemberton and Beck Heslop by May 1 2023. Accommodation and travel costs for invited participants will be covered by the organisers.  

We are committed to making this event as accessible as possible and welcome any suggestions for how we might achieve this.  

The hybrid workshop will be based at the University of Manchester (UK) on Wed 13th-15th September 2023.