Events and Conferences

Call for Papers: ‘Learning to be Disabled: Cultures of Care and the Emotional Responses of Disabled WWI soldiers’

Event: Symposium ECER 2011 – Network 17: Histories of Education

For the upcoming ECER (European Conference on Educational Research) is taking place in Berlin, Germany on Tuesday September 13th and Friday September 16th 2011.  A Call for Papers has been released a symposium on the theme of “Learning to be disabled: Cultures of care and the emotional responses of disabled WW1 soldiers”.

In 1915 the French illustrated newspaper L’illustration featured a drawing by Paul Renouard. The picture showed a group of blinded French soldiers from the First World War tapping forward with uncertain steps and wooden canes. All of them were guided by a dazzling whirl of white nurses who looked upon the strange row of mutilated men with a mix of compassion and adoration. The illustration was entitled ‘ceux qui apprennent à être aveugles’. The title suggests that after being physically blinded on the battlefield those soldiers had to face another and more challenging task in the aftermath of the war, namely that of being blind. All of them had to incorporate their impairment, reorganise their identity and learn what is meant to be, to think and to behave as a blind man.

By means of this call for contributions the organisers would like to invite scholars from different European countries – or countries who were active in Europe during the Great War – to reflect on the complex and multilayered relation between learning processes on the one hand and disabled identities on the other. In particular they seek contributions which are able to contextualize the problematic and conflicting relationships between learning and disability with regard to the disabled veterans from the First World War – while the war was ongoing between 1914 and 1918 as well as during the Interwar period. In this way they would like to explore to what extent the pioneering work of David Gerber, Julie Anderson and Ana Carden-Coyne on the crossroad of military history and disability studies can be continued and pushed forward to new and undiscovered terrains or insights. Identity formation indeed has become a major theme in contemporary disability studies but untill now the underlying learning processes to a great extent have been neglected. By examining the intersection of what Jeffrey Reznick has called ‘cultures of care’ and the emotional responses of disabled veterans with regard to the rehabilitative efforts all of the belligerent countries undertook during and after the war they would like to stimulate scholars to inquire the role played by learning processes in the formation of disabled identities more thoroughly.

Unfortunately, as the conference explicitly urges scholars to address topics that relate to the European context, abstracts dealing with the emotional responses of disabled soldiers in non-European contexts will not be accepted.  Non-European scholars addressing the rehabilitation of European disabled soldiers or relating their research to the European context are very much welcomed.

Abstracts should contain of no more then 200 words and should be send electronically to Pieter Verstraete ( before January 1st 2011 at the latest. Scholars will be notified on January 10th if their abstract will be submitted. Around March 15th authors will receive an e-mail with the result of the reviewing process by the board of Network 17 ‘Histories of Education’ with regard to the submitted symposium in general.

More information with regard to this call for contributions can be obtained by e-mailing Pieter Verstraete (

More information with regard to the ECER conference (e.g. registration formalities) can be found at:

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