Mapping methodological invisibilities between medical humanities and disability history
Dr Coreen McGuire, Aparna Nair, Bess Williamson, Marion Andrea Schmidt, Michael Robinson, Nathanje Diijkstra, Gemma AlmondZoom
Our position panel explores how the theoretical commitments of disability history can lead to areas of invisibility within wider medical humanities. We explore these invisibilities through diverse historically-grounded case studies that illuminate how particular disability and illness experiences become less visible because of theoretical commitments. We focus on how disabled people engaged with medical science in a way that disrupts a strict social/medical model binary and show how intersectional identities and different forms of disability challenge theoretical assumptions. This framework supports a diverse set of narratives: historical usage of medication by people with epilepsy; prosthetics in everyday environments; and products and devices that shift between medical and social environments. We map invisibilities in-between disciplinary boundaries through discussion of how the history of psychiatry and the history of science have engaged with disability history. Our final overarching focus is on work and disability, which we examine first through research on how legislative models focused on measuring ability to work are established outside of a medical/social model binary, and second by exploring how chronic invisible illnesses are missed by both the industrialisation thesis and its recent revisions. In illuminating these lacunae, we propose new models and robust methodologies for researches in this area, including the ‘design model of disability’.