Dr. Beth Robertson, Dr. Gildas Bregain, & Dr. Paul van Trigt, "Disability Histories and Futures of the Nation"

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Recorded by Dr. Beth Robertson, Dr. Gildas Bregain, & Dr. Paul van Trigt on October 15, 2020

For audio description, please watch this video on YouDescribe at the following link (best with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox): https://youdescribe.org/video/9lprEEJviK0?ad=6009c5c969f2192f639026e7

Lecture Summary: This seminar aims to explore the historical relationship between disability and the nation state from a transnational perspective, with the intent of probing how that relationship had manifested over time in the form of technological and public infrstructure, employment and education, government policies and state bureaucracy around immigration and global development, as well as the issue of human and civil rights. Much like the seminar series overarching theme, this seminar will serve to challenege the idea that disability is a peripheral issue of a marginalized few, but instead will position disability as a central feature of the nation state and how it operates. By doing so, our aim is to probe the historical, political and cultural contexts that have shaped the current state of democracy, the development of human rights legislation, and in turn, how persisting barriers to public services, political participation, employment, education, etc. reflect an all too enduring conception of citizenship that is premised on the non-disabled person, which can only be imagined through reference to its alleged opposite - the disabled body/mind. 

Beth Robertson, the Conference Board of Canada and the Carleton University Disability Research Group

Gildas Bregain, the École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique

Paul van Trigt, Leiden University

Download the full event transcript here.

Resources and Further Reading

Speakers' Publications 

Brégain, Gildas. "The ILO and the shift towards economic liberalization in the international professional rehabilitation policy of people with disabilities after World War II." In Marginalized Groups, Inequalities and the Post-War Welfare State: Whose Welfare?, edited by Monika Baár and Paul van Trigt. London and New York: Routledge, 2020. 

Brégain, Gildas. Pour une histoire du handicap au XXe siècle: approches transnationales (Europe et Amériques). Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2018. 

Brégain, Gildas. "Reintegrating without changing colonial hierarchies? Ethnic and territorial inequalities in the policies to assist war-disabled men from the French colonial empire (1916–1939)." Alter: European Journal of Disability Research 13, no 4. (2019): 244-262.

Robertson, Beth. "Cosmic Moderns: Re-Enchanting the Bodt in Canada's Atomic Age, 1931-51." In Made Modern: Science and Technology in Canada, edited by Edward Jones-Imhotep and Tina Adcock. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2018. 

Robertson, Beth. "Performative (Ir)rationality: Rethinking Agency in Canadian Histories of Gender, Religion, Reason, and Beyond." In A Companion to Canadain Women's and Gender History, edited by Nancy Janovicek and Carmen Nielson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019. 

Robertson, Beth. Science of the Séance: Transnational Networks and Gendered Bodies in the Study of Psychic Phenomena, 1918-1940. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2016. 

Trigt, Paul van, and Monika Baár. "Dennedal: een progressief experiment?. In Wereldgeschiedenis van Nederland, edited by Heerma van Voss L, Hart M. 't, Davids K, Fatah-Black K, Lucassen L, Touwen J., 665-670. Amsterdam: Ambo|Anthos Uitgevers, 2018. 

Trigt, Paul van. "Equal Reproduction Rights? The Right to found a Family in United Nations' Disability Policy since the 1970s." History of the Family 25, no. 2. (2020): 202-213. 

Trigt, Paul van. "Hoeveel gelijkheid verdraagt de gastheer?." In Tussen Amsterdam en Kampen: George Harinck en het Historisch Documentatiecentrum aan de Vrije Universiteit 1985-2017, edited by Wim Berkelaar, Hans Seijlhouwer, and Bart Wallet, 119-121. Amsterdam: Historisch Documentatiecentrum voor het Nederlands Protestantisme, 2018. 

See above links for more information on the speakers' publications. 

Other Resources

Alan Reich. See also the National Organization on Disability's "About" page, here.

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Americans with Disabilities Act

Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. London: Penguin Books, 2017.

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)

Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975)

Disabled Peoples' International (DPI)

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 


International Association of Physiotherapy and Physical Medicine

International Federation of Physical Medicine

International Labour Organization (ILO)

International Society of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology

Oomen, Barbara. Rights for Others: The Slow Home-Coming for Human Rights in the Netherlands. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 

Theresia Degener

UN Secretaries-General Archives

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

United Nations

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

World Confederation of Physical Therapy

World Federation of Occupational Therapy

World Health Organization

Dr. Beth Robertson, Dr. Gildas Bregain, & Dr. Paul van Trigt