Cologne – Conference 2019

Histories, Practices and Policies of Disability

International, Comparative and Transdisciplinary Perspectives

Website of the conference


Disability is a multidimensional phenomenon: it is understood as a lived experience, a social practice, a cultural trope and an international policy issue. A growing body of scholars investigates disability as a historical, social, political and cultural construction. In the age of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), discourses on disability can be traced throughout a multiplicity of histories, narratives, practices and policies. The existing landscape of innovative disability research and political interventions consists of a broad spectrum of theoretical concepts, methodological and empirical approaches and ethical foundations, and draws from the political and social sciences, historical research as well as the cultural studies approaches. Studying disability as a multifaceted object of research raises the following questions:

  • How is historical, socio-political and cultural knowledge about embodiment, health, normality, impairment and dis/ability produced and transformed?
  • How are theories and concepts of disability translated into empirical methodology (e.g. participatory and/or emancipatory research), and how can disability research and critical disability studies inform general academia and political practice?
  • How do individual and social identities, self-conceptions and body images intersect with societal structures, social institutions, identity politics, political governance and cultural representations?
  • What are the political, social and cultural consequences of a disability research that relates to general debates on historical legacies, social inequality, post-colonialism, human diversity, fundamental rights, participation, exclusion and inclusion?

This conference aims to contribute to the thriving discourse of international, comparative and transdisciplinary disability research. It offers a platform for debates and conversations between regions, disciplines and theoretical perspectives. It presents an opportunity for exchange between young scholars and senior researchers in disability research and critical disability studies.

Researchers are invited to submit abstracts for the 8th Annual ALTER Conference before 20 January 2019. It is possible to submit individual abstracts or suggest organizing a session of three presentations focusing on the same theme. We particularly encourage comparative, interdisciplinary and international sessions. Researchers wishing to suggest a session are invited to submit both an individual abstract of their paper and an abstract describing the joint session and its participants.

The programme will be organised according to the following themes. The call for papers may also include any other topic researchers submit through an original topic session proposal.

  • European Disability Histories
  • Disability Movements, Advocacy and Identity Politics in Europe and Beyond
  • The UN Convention, Citizenship and Human Rights
  • Disability and Debates about Inclusive Education
  • Persons with Disabilities in the Labour Market: Present Situations and Future Trends
  • Persons with Disabilities in the Community: between Segregation and Inclusion
  • Gender, Ethnicity, Sexuality and Intersectionality
  • Disability, Migration and the Global South
  • Disability, (Auto-)Biographical Experiences and First Person Perspectives
  • Disability in the Arts and in Culture
  • Disability, the Body and Embodiment
  • Accessibility, Technologies and Materiality
  • Disability Law and Legal Studies
  • Methods in Disability Research

Please upload your abstract and session proposal before 20 January 2019 on the conference website:

Your abstract should include a detailed description of your presentation (issue addressed, type of data used, analysis, results and main bibliographical references, maximum 300 words). The conference language is English. Video presentations are accepted only in exceptional cases.

You will be notified regarding the acceptance of the abstracts and session proposals by 15 March 2019