Welcome to “Global Histories of Disability!” This four-week NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers took place at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. from June 18 to July 13, 2022. The institute hosted twenty-five participants from different disciplines and at different stages in their careers, including three Ph.D. students, who shared a serious interest in the history of disability, and sixteen guest speakers.

The field of disability history has made spectacular strides over the past two decades, and disability histories of regions other than Europe and the United States are finally being written. Thus, the institute’s three core units were organized geographically and included the United States, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. We met five days a week, usually from 9:30 am to 3 pm, with optional meetings from 3 to 4 pm (see the Schedule for details) and optional evening and weekend activities. We also took advantage of the unparalleled opportunities offered by Washington, D.C. These included a special session led by Katherine Ott on disability and material culture at the National Museum of American History, exhibits on disability at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and guided tours of the FDR memorial and the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.

The institute examined the development and main theoretical and methodological debates of the rich and vibrant field of disability history. We explored how different societies throughout history have understood, experienced, and responded to impairments of the senses, of the body, and of the mind. We also brainstormed tools, resources, and strategies to incorporate disability into teaching and research. We are in the process of creating section of this website dedicated to teaching — stay tuned!

If you wish to learn more, Caroline Lieffers interviewed the three Ph.D. student participants, Chao Wang (University of Chicago), Katherrine Healey (Yale University) and Elizabeth McFayden (University of Illinois at Chicago), about their experiences attending the institute for Episode 4 (September 2022) of the podcast series of the Disability History Association. 

Sara Scalenghe, Institute Director
Loyola University Maryland                                                 

Last updated on September 23, 2022.