The science behind the comic
Chapter 6 ▾
The urgency of intersectionality - Kimberlé Crenshaw
Angela Davis criticizes mainstream feminism
Chapter 5 ▾
This text is a short press release written at the end of 1943 at the Colonial Office in London. It describes the first ‘experiment’ with teaching and training blind Kenyans in Nairobi by the Salvation Army, a Christian mission with activities throughout the British empire. The school, which was the precursor to the still existing School for the Blind at Thika, was set up to give blind Kenyans an elementary education and – especially – to give them vocational training. As the text states, the ultimate aim was for the students to be ‘taught how to take care of themselves and trained for some vocation’.
Given the context of the text, it is replete with colonial and missionary tropes. The ‘blind Africans’ are set up as helpless, pitiful subjects, only to be rescued by the white saviors, the faithful and patient officers of the Salvation Army. The text also reflects how colonial rule in Kenya was steeped in tribal thinking, dividing the population into distinct ‘tribes’ and creating Native reserves. According to this logic the first student of the center, Thomas, was ‘a good deal more advanced than his up-country brother’ and was in the eyes of the initiators more likely to succeed. Both the disability and ‘race’ of the students are cast as an impediment to their development, yet in the end and with the help from the Salvation Army they emerge as inspirational characters, outdoing even ‘the average European’. The bible quote at the beginning and the language of achieving a ‘miracle’ enforce the religious calling of missionary movements like the Salvation Army and how they ultimately perceived their ‘civilizing mission’.
This text therefore gives a good idea about how disabled Africans were cast by colonial actors, but also reflects a paternalistic, humanitarian thinking that would be influential way beyond the period of colonialism.
- ‘Photographs from The National Archives, Kew, File CO 968/139/7, Rehabilitation of blind persons: East Africa’
- Décoloniser les Arts’ blog (in French)
Chapter 4 ▾
James Davies: The origins of the DSM
Robert Whitaker: Our Psychiatric Drug Epidemic
Does Your Soul Have a Cold? (trailer)
Chapter 3 ▾
If a wheelchair user cannot enter a building because the only way to get access is to climb 88 stairs, then whose fault this is? Should this person be expected to miraculously stand up and walk? In this chapter we engage with the social model of disability and we find out that often, disablement is created by societal attitudes and the environment: after all, if a ramp is attached to the building, it suddenly becomes accessible. A lot of effort and even fighting was necessary to achieve that European legislation is passed which –at least in theory– ensures the right to inclusion. Yet, there is no guarantee that one day some of those rights cannot disappear altogether! Take, for example, Brexit. As we learn from this chapter, Britain’s departure from the European Union is likely to affect those hardly-won rights in a negative way: we can only hope that disability legislation is not going to return to ‘Ice Age’.
- A matter of life and death? UK stockpiles drugs as no-deal Brexit feared | Reuters
- Brexit Impact on UK Disability Employment - Disabled World
Video Glamour Elisa Rojas (in french)
Video Le Média with Elisa Rojas "La dépendance est organisée" (in french, with french subtitles, english, italian, spanish) > for motivated public
Chapter 2 ▾
In this chapter we make acquaintance with Vance, a professor at CNRS in Lyon who became tetraplegic as a consequence of a bike accident. He now researchers neurorehabilitation and sports with his team and he is also a cyclist who participated in the Cybathlon – a competition for disabled athletes with technical support. To what extent, if at all, does disability mean a ‘deficit’ for people like Vance? Through this question we are introduced to the medical model of disability and we are also pushed to think about issues such as the norm and normativity, stigma and stigmatization. We then encounter Stella Young, an Australian comedian and disability activist who explains why she does not want to be ‘an inspiration’ for people. She also shows that what disabled people need to ‘overcome’ has not to do with their bodies but with societal attitudes. Here commences our introduction to the social model of disability.
ENS de Lyon team at the Cybathlon 2016
I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much | Stella Young
Chapter 1 ▾
It may be not an exaggeration to assume that comic artist Hélène Bléhaut ended up with the most challenging topic of the entire ERcCOMICS series. Why should we be concerned with disability all? Would looking away not be an easier reaction? Chapter 1 invites us to leave behind our fears and unease and embark on a journey which accompanies the research of the Rethinking Disability ERC group. A good point of departure may be to think of our own experiences of being ‘temporarily disabled’, for example because of a broken bone. How should we react upon encountering people with disabilities? Should we ask questions or should remain silent about the issue? The chapter confronts us with these dilemmas in a playful manner.
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