The journal ‘Moving the Social: Journal of Social History and the History of Social Movements‘ has published a special issue dedicated to Disability Movements: National Policies and Transnational Perspectives. It contains the following articles:
Disability Movements National Policies and Transnational Perspectives – Introductory Remarks, by Jan Stoll
The special issue Disability Movements: National Policies and Transnational Perspectives examines different Disability Movements and their transnational entanglements in the 20th century. The articles in this issue enquire into the adaptions and transfers between different national movements and into the establishment of networks across borders nbetween like-minded people, who shared similar aims. Furthermore, they ask about nprocesses of how knowledge and strategies were transferred, exchanged and adapted. Therefore, the issue combines three different research strands: First, disability; second, new social movement research; and third, transnational approaches. The adoption of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006 highlights the need of considering disability rights activism on national as well as international levels.
Governing Madness – Transforming Psychiatry Disability History and the Formation of Cultural Knowledge in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, by Anne Klein
In 1975, the German Bundestag published the Psychiatrie-Enquête, a 1,800 pages report, which had been produced over five years by more than 200 experts under the auspices of Aktion psychisch Kranke e.V. The reform movement, which throughout the following 20 years established institutional standards of social psychiatry in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), was strongly influenced by the principles of welfare politics implemented in the states of Northern Europe. However, some minor trajectories of knowledge can be detected and will be discussed in this article. On the level of therapeutic and anthropological thinking, the ongoing and fierce critique of institutionalised psychiatric exclusion in different European countries was accompanied by new arguments of social research and critical theory. On the level of historical awareness, the emerging knowledge of the Nazi genocide and euthanasia led to a memory turn in 1979. Historical research on the so-called forgotten victims supported the acknowledgement and emancipation of psychiatric patients during the 1980s, which could be realised under the new social psychiatry frame. On the level of democratisation, patients’ self-help and -advocacy as well as their networks of support established a strong voice in the public, which since then has to be heard in political decision-making. These three trajectories of (marginalised) knowledge strongly affected cultural democratisation as the necessary platform or general heaven for moving social institutions and political realities. The aim of this paper is to get a clearer image of their conceptual influences on Western Germany’s intellectual and political consciousness in moving social imagination and the democratisation of interactions. The study will work with the de/constructionist cultural approach to disability in order to expound the problems of knowledge discourses and their effects on the constructions of normativity and inequality.
Informal Networks, International Developments and the Founding of the First Interest-Representing Associations of Disabled People in Hungary in the Late Socialist Period (1970s – 1980s), by Monika Baár
The article focuses on the grassroots activities of disabled citizens in Hungary during the recent socialist period and relates to the emergence of the first two interest-representing organisations, the National Association of People with Physical Disabilities and the National Association of Parents of Children with Mental and Intellectual Disabilities in 1981. By contextualising the disabled people’s activities within the state socialist system, the article also contemplates the broader question if and to what extent it is possible to speak about a “social movement” and how the Hungarian disabled people’s activities compare to those of disabilty rights movement participants elsewhere in the world. With regard to the specific traits of the Hungarian case, the article emphasises the crucial role of informal networks. Moreover, it argues that contrary to other (capitalist) countries where the efforts of self-determination were directed against the patronising attidues of medical and professional experts, disabled activists in Hungary were actively and wholeheartedly assisted in their emancipatory desires by these professional groups. Last but not least, the article points to the significance of international connections and accommodates the activities of Hungarian disabled people within international developments and particularly within the increased activities in several countries during the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981).
The German Disability Movement as a Transnational, Entangled New Social Movement, by Jan Stoll
The article examines the Disability Movement in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. Therefore, disability activism in West Germany is considered with regard to new social movement research. Furthermore, the author asks for local, regional and national action-frames and addressees of the Disability Movements, based on the assumption that a movement of people personally affected by disabilities will address the national welfare policy or civil rights issues, which are bound to national legislation. The movement initially aimed at local everyday life barriers or national civil rights and societal discrimination. Thus, its action-frames and addressees were spatially bounded. However, following processes of differentiation and professionalisation in the early 1980s, the movement broadened its transnational alliances. One example considered are the attempts for the de-institutionalisation of care and the enabling of self-determined Personal Assistance, which took place in exchange with activists of the Independent Living Movement in the United States. The other example considered is the campaign of German disability activists to support a group of revolutionary people with disabilities in Nicaragua, which sets the movement into the context of new social movements and the alternative milieu with its specific political expression, habits and style.
A Blind Spot of a Guiding Country? Human Rights and Dutch Disability Groups Since 1981, by Paul van Trigt
This article investigates how and why the framework of human rights was (not) used by two important Dutch cross-disability organisations, the Dutch Council of People with Disability and the Dutch department of Independent Living, since the International United Nations Year of Disabled Persons (1981) until now. As in other countries the word human is added to give the fight for equal civil rights by disability activists more power. In striving for civil rights and equal citizenship, Dutch disability activists were in particular inspired by the disability rights movement in the United States (US). At the beginning of the 1990s the Dutch disability activists hoped to realise equal citizenship as was achieved with the Americans with Disabilities Act and to play a role as guiding country in Europe. When disability was not added to Dutch non-discrimination legislation in 1994, a narrative of “lagging behind” with regard to disability policies came into being. This narrative inspires Dutch disability activists until today. In their struggle for equal citizenship it became increasingly common to refer to human rights. In referring to rights, the Dutch were relatively late in comparison to other Western countries and this can be explained by a combination of Dutch particularities.
“Nothing About Us Without Us” Disability Rights Activism in European Countries – A Comparative Analysis, by Anne Waldschmidt/Anemari Karačić/ Andreas Sturm/Timo Dins
This paper explores disability rights activism as a form of collective political participation. This type of organised civil society has been and continues to be vital in promoting and implementing social and political change in European societies. However, little is known about its structures and resources, activities and effects. First, this paper discusses different typologies of disability rights activism and proposes an own attempt of systematising different forms of disability rights activism. By comparing various, rationalist as well as constructivist, theoretical approaches, this article develops an integrated framework for analysing disability organisations by drawing on approaches that consider the interrelations between structure and agency. Second, applying new social movement theory, we explore identity politics and models of disability as identity frames of disability rights activism. Both aspects relate to the pivotal question of how the interests of persons with disabilities are represented in disability politics. Finally, based on documentary analysis of primary data and structured national reports findings of a comparative analysis from a sample of nine European countries (Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom) are offered. There is evidence that the principle of self-representation—which is a crucial demand of the disability rights movement—has resulted in different practices at the level of national disability assemblies.
Review Article Disability Movements – A Growing Field of Research?, by Sebastian Weinert
Rosalyn Benjamin Darling: Disability and Identity: Negotiating Self in a Changing Society, Boulder/London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2013, ISBN: 978 – 1-58826 – 864 – 8, 189 pp.
Swantje Köbsell: Wegweiser Behindertenbewegung: Neues (Selbst-)Verständnis von Behinderung, Neu Ulm: AG SPAK Bücher, 2012, ISBN: 978 – 3-940865 – 35 – 9, 102 pp.
Nils Löffelbein: Ehrenbürger der Nation: Die Kriegsbeschädigten des Ersten Weltkriegs in Politik und Propaganda des Nationalsozialismus, Essen: Klartext Verlag, 2013, ISBN: 978 – 3-8375 – 0839 – 0, 494 pp.
Fred Pelka: What Have We Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement, Amherst/Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012, ISBN: 978 – 1-55849 – 919 – 5, 656 pp.
Heather Ridolfo/Brian W. Ward: Mobility Impairment and the Construction of Identity, Boulder/London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2013, ISBN: 978 – 1-935049 – 96 – 8, 188 pp.
Ylva Söderfeldt: From Pathology to Public Sphere: The German Deaf Movement 1848 – 1914, Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2013, ISBN: 978 – 3-8376 – 2119 – 8, 316 pp.