Valentin Haüy – Founder of the first school for blind people in 1784

It is no longer useful to distinguish people by the binary opposition able-bodied/disabled.

We now recognise people on a continuum of ability on which no-one is entirely able-bodied or entirely disabled.

But was it always true? And if it is true now, does this require that we reconsider the use of binary oppositions when understanding people and their capabilities?

VariAbilit(ies) is an interdisciplinary conference which will explore these questions.


VariAbilities IV 2018

Variabilities IV: Call for Papers

Senate House, University of London

5-7 June 2018

With the imminent announcement of Peculiar Bodies, a new series of monographs from Virginia University Press, it is now urgent to explore the questions that need to and can be usefully asked about the histories of bodies (with no limiting dates), as well as the methodologies of approach.

While this might be the desired overall effect of Variabilities IV, the conference itself will be made up of papers about individual bodies in their particular histories, approached from whatever methodology seems to be the most appropriate. The bodies may range from healthy to diseased, able to impaired, sports fit to couch potato, real to represented, cared for to cared by, and everything you can think of in between. The histories may be any from classical antiquity to the contemporary, and the methodology of approach from contextual to theoretical, or whatever combination of these.

Let’s find out if we can speak sensibly to one another of bodies from such a wide historical range, and about individual bodies, which are each “the same only different” from one another.

Please send your proposals to:

By 31 January 2018