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Learning from history

In this video, Leanne Dowse provides a broad overview of the history of disability, from classical to contemporary times.

This week you will explore three case studies in the history of disability.

But before you do, we want to put these case studies into a wider historical context. After all, concepts of disability do not just come out of “nowhere” — they are shaped by the social, political, religious, scientific and cultural context of particular times and places.

How, then, can we examine this bigger picture?

In the above video, Leanne Dowse, Associate Professor and Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support at the University of New South Wales — and one of our Lead Educators — briefly outlines the historical trajectory of disability in the West, from classical to contemporary times. She describes the long movement from the growth and recognition of disability culture, to civil rights and disability activism, to contemporary ideas about inclusion and human rights. Leanne also explains how in recent times, the shift from agrarian to industrialised economies in the developed world has been “relocating” people with disabilities both conceptually and physically.

As you watch this video take notes of key themes.

Talking points

  • Which of these historical movements are already familiar to you?
  • Does anything about this history of disability shock or surprise you?
  • How do you think understanding disability histories might help us to better understand how disability is understood today?
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Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

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