Events and Conferences

CFP: 2nd Annual INSPIRe Virtual Symposium September 8-21, 2013

International Network of Student Perspectives in Research

Exploring ability expectations through diverse disciplines and topics

The Wolb Pack, a team of inter- and trans-disciplinary undergraduate and graduate research students based at the University of Calgary are pleased to announce a call for abstracts for the 2nd annual INSPIRe virtual symposium. The conference theme is “Exploring ability expectations through diverse disciplines and topics”.

Who should participate?

You should participate if you are an undergraduate or graduate studies student of a post-secondary institution/organization.

Aims of the conference

The aims of this conference are to:

  1. Encourage student discussion regarding socio-cultural ability expectations.
  2. Provide a peer-reviewed opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to showcase their work.
  3. Provide a platform for dialogue and networking without the costs of travel and conference fees.

Potential topics of submission

Topics may engage a variety of social groups (e.g. disabled people, ethnic minorities, gender,

socioeconomic status, immigrants, migrants, etc.) and discussion of ability expectations. Suggestions of topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Ableism
  • Aging
  • Bodybuilding
  • Bullying
  • Bionics
  • Climate change
  • Disability studies
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Energy issues
  • Environmental justice
  • ‘Eco-ability’
  • Equity and equality
  • Ethics
  • Eugenics
  • Feminist approach to ability expectations
  • Future of communication
  • Technologies and ability expectations
  • Global outlook
  • Health consumerism
  • Health science technology and health care
  • Human development
  • Human enhancement
  • Human security
  • Immigrant policies
  • Indigenous studies
  • Local outlook
  • Media discourses and representation of various social groups
  • Organ donation and transplantation
  • Peace
  • Privacy and health science technologies
  • Prospects of artificial wombs
  • Racism
  • Science and technology governance
  • Sensory systems
  • Social determinants of health
  • Social justice
  • Social robots
  • Social well-being
  • Sport
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainability and economics
  • The human body
  • Water issues

Full call for papers see here (Deadline 30 July 2013)

DRF News

Third Keynote Announced for Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane Conference (Sheffield, UK: Sept. 2013)

Debating whether you should attend the Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 4th International Conference at Sheffield Hallam University (September 3rd-4th 2013)?

Here is another good reason to come, as we are thrilled to announce our third keynote speaker…


Prof. Tom Billington, (Professor of Educational and Child Psychology, School of Education, University of Sheffield, UK) will be discussing….

Time, Space, Mind: Narratives of Quality and Experience


Abstract: This paper explores non-deficit conceptualizations of mind which are drawn from philosophy (Bergson), psychoanalysis (Bion) and neuroscience (Damasio). Discourses of mind are constructed which are dynamic – ‘mind as process’ – and not restricted to mechanistic accounts of the brain or indeed any individual psychopathology, for example, autism. Theorizations are explored and illustrated by accounts of case work conducted with young people, their parents and teachers both in schools and the family courts.

Bio: Tom is Professor of Educational and Child Psychology as well as Director of the Centre for the Study of Children, Families and Learning Communities at the University of Sheffield.  Much of Tom’s research focuses on the professional practices of Educational and Child Psychologists, in particular, the nature of work conducted with children and young people and the theoretical bases upon which practice is justified. He has published extensively in this area and has for many years sought to inform the development of practitioner assessments and interventions which are both ethical and effective through expanding the base of research evidence beyond reductionist psychopathologies. In particular, he has been locating Educational Psychology within the context of a much broader critical theoretical framework (Billington, 1997).

Tom has specialized in qualitative research methodologies, especially discourse analytic, psychodynamic and narrative approaches in individual case work with children and young people, their families and schools. Of particular concern is the power of psychological discourses as exercised by practitioners, focusing on fundamental questions as to how we go about our work; for example, `how do we speak of children? How do we speak with children? How do we write about children? How do we listen to children? How do we listen to ourselves (when working with children)? (Billington, 2006).


Keep up to date via the Normalcy 2013 page on the DRF blog:, join the debate on twitter #normalcy2013 and, remember, to book a place at the conference, please visit



DRF News

‘Notes for Delegates’ and ‘Notes for Presenters’ now available for ‘Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane’ Conference 2013 (Sheffield, UK)

‘Notes for Delegates’ and ‘Notes for Presenters’ are now available for the upcoming  ‘Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane’ Conference 2013.  Click on the links below.

Notes for Delegates include:

1. Getting to Sheffield

2. Accommodation in Sheffield

3. Conference Venue

– Access Information about the Conference Building

4. Food

Notes for Presenters include:



  1. Content
  2. Visual Aids
  3. Written Materials

For more conference info: or join the debate on twitter #normalcy2013


**Draft conference programme coming shortly**

DRF News

CFP: Sexualities Special Issue ‘Intellectual Disability and Sexuality: On the Agenda?’

Papers are called for that consider…

Issues relating to intellectual disability regarding sex, childrearing and intimacy are considered contentious at the best of times. This is often couched in discourses of danger, risk and protection. But it is clear that intellectually disabled people have been subject to physical and sexual abuse, excluded and marginalised from relationships and sex education, struggled with their own health and wellbeing and represented as ‘less than human’ and therefore lack capacity to make decisions about their own sexuality. In addition, all of the above have an impact upon everyday life, family members and carers. The lack of sexual and physical autonomy is further compounded in social discourse as in the case where a British mother defended her right, before the courts, to have her young disabled daughters’ womb removed. Conversely, attention has also been drawn to young disabled people and their sexual activity or sexuality in a positive and proactive light. The Family Planning Association (fpa) in the UK dedicated their Sexual Health Week in August 2008, to campaign for the rights of disabled people to have sex and relationships. With these tensions and dilemmas in mind it makes sense to dedicate a special issue to intellectual disability.

If you would like to contribute an original article based on empirical, theoretical or policy research in the areas of intellectual disability regarding: sexuality and rights, intimacy, sexual health, sex and education, sex work, abuse/violence, same sex relationships, gender, dating, mothering and so on please send a 300 word abstract to me (details below) with a working title before 30th September 2013.

The final papers will be 6-7000 maximum. Other innovative shorter pieces, commentary, or response pieces will also be considered if deemed appropriate in this issue. All papers will be anonymously peer reviewed and go through the usual academic rigour. Please contact me with abstract, title, and/or questions. 

Dr Chrissie Rogers: Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University (Birmingham, UK)

DRF News

Keynotes Announced for Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane Conference (Sheffield, UK: September 2013)

If you are in any doubt over whether you should attend the Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 4th International Conference at Sheffield Hallam University (September 3rd-4th 2013), here is a little taster of what will be on offer.

We are thrilled to announce two of this year’s keynotes speakers:

Dr Clare Barker, Lecturer in English (Medical Humanities) at the University of Leeds, UK will be discussing….

Whose Health? Biocolonialism, Postcolonial Medicine, and Normalcy Across Cultures

Abstract: In the Māori writer Patricia Grace’s novel Baby No-Eyes (1998), an indigenous activist counters arguments about ‘progress’ in genetic science and the benefits of finding ‘answers’ to health ‘problems’ with questions: “whose health problems are we talking about, and answers for who?”. These questions are productive and provocative as they unsettle some of the normalising functions of global biomedical discourses: assumptions that ‘health’ will look and feel the same across different cultures and communities; that we all want to know the same information about our genes and bodies, and aspire to the same goals of bodily function, appearance, and ability; and that advances in medical science will ultimately benefit all of humankind. This paper uses examples from literary texts such as Baby No-Eyes in order to unpack the universalism that underpins concepts such as ‘normalcy’, ‘health’ and ‘ability’. While organisations such as the WHO offer standardised models for measuring ‘health’ and identifying ‘problem’ areas, these texts provide alternative perspectives on what communities themselves perceive as ‘normal’, ‘unhealthy’ or ‘dysfunctional’, and stress the specialist cultural knowledge and resources that often determine how illness, disability, and medical intervention are experienced. Focusing especially on genetic research, the paper will highlight the continuities between extractive colonial practices and contemporary forms of ‘biocolonialism’ – the mining or exploitation of some human bodies (usually in the global South) for the benefit of others (most often, neoliberalised ‘normates’ in the global North). It will end by reflecting on what a postcolonial approach to global health, medicine, normalcy, and disability might look like. An approach that is attentive to cultural difference and specificity, I suggest, can help keep us vigilant about the kinds of normalisation that arise within medical discourse and provide conceptual resources for resisting the tyranny of the normal.

Bio: Clare Barker is the author of Postcolonial Fiction and Disability: Exceptional Children, Metaphor and Materiality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and has co-edited two special issues of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies: ‘Disabling Postcolonialism’ (2010, with Stuart Murray) and ‘Disability and Native American/Indigenous Studies’ (2013, with Siobhan Senier). Her research is situated at the intersection of postcolonial studies, disability studies and medical humanities, and focuses on representations of disability, health, illness, and medicine in world literatures and cultures. She is interested in the ways in which disability, health and illness are constructed in local and global contexts, and how fiction can transform our understanding of embodied difference, medical encounters, and the politics of health. Clare is currently working on two new research projects: one is a collaborative AHRC-funded project on community health and wellbeing in the UK, in which she will focus on the relationship between health and ethnicity in British Asian communities and literatures. The other, tentatively entitled ‘Postcolonial Health: Literature, Medicine, Activism’, will explore the representation of health crises, global biomedical debates, and health-related community activism in postcolonial literatures and film. This will include work on fictional and activist representations of the Bhopal disaster, indigenous responses to the Human Genome Diversity Project, and disability-related protests against the sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.


Dr Jenny Slater, Lecturer in Education and Disability Studies at the Sheffield Hallam University, UK will be discussing….

The (Normal) Non-normativity of Youth

Abstract: Youth unnerves us. Awkwardly bridging the space between ‘child’ and ‘adult’, we are delivered demonising depictions of young people (hoodies and hooligans), and working out how to deal with these not-quite children but not-quite-adults is high on policy makers’ agendas (Slater, 2013, f.c.). On the other hand, the non-normativity of ‘teenage rebellion’ is considered an ‘identity forming’ rite of passage for young people to cross the border zone between child and adult (Lesko, 2002). We hear, in fact, young people scorned upon for their apolitical, apathetic acceptance of normativity – the youth today a pale reflection of their predecessors (Bennett, 2008).  Even our ever-so reasonable politicians tell us that they “[did] things that teenagers do”, before they “pulled [themselves] up and headed in the right [direction]”  (Cameron in Watt, 2009).

This paper will explore how, through youth, ‘non-normativity’ emerges as a place allowed, indeed expected, as a stage of ‘normative development’. I will argue, however, that it is a stage only permissible to young people fitting neatly into other culturally privileged positions. Furthermore, it must be played out by meeting other societal expectations (‘masculinity’ – lads will be lads; first heterosexual encounters, and so on) which set young people on the path to normative adulthood. Commercialised and commodified ‘what it is to be young’, I argue, is an illustration of the required flexible neoliberal subject; it is okay to be ‘non-normative’ if ‘non-normativity’ can be compartmentalised, as a phase to be grown-out of, and later periodically bought into. Drawing on fieldwork with disabled young people alongside other cultural and media representations of ‘youth’ and ‘youth culture’, I will argue that perceived  ‘non-normativity’ leaves young people not fitting into other culturally priveledged positions much more precariously positioned.

Bio: Jenny Slater is a lecturer in Education and Disability Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. Her doctoral work with young disabled people drew on critical disability studies frameworks to consider cultural constructions of ‘youth’ and ‘disability’. Jenny is interested in how youth and disability ‘play out’ with other intersectional identities, particularly gender and sexuality.


Keep up to date via the Normalcy 2013 page on the DRF blog:, join the debate on twitter #normalcy2013 and, remember, to book a place at the conference, please visit

Events and Conferences

Seminar Announcement: Able-ism and the Question of the Human, 30th July, University of Toronto, Canada

“Able-ism and the Question of the Human” promises to provoke questions regarding the meaning of “human” that can be revealed in everyday assumptions of ability. How, for example, do medical, legal, or educational forms of engaging those who are typically excluded do more than confirm the normative order of able-ism or, worse, reproducing human degradation?

This free, public, accessible seminar brings us together with Drs. Dan Goodley from Sheffield University, UK; James Overboe, Waterloo University; Anne McGuire, New College, University Toronto along with Rinaldo Walcott and Tanya Titchkosky from OISE with Lead Discussant Dr Kirsty Liddiard, Post-Doc fellow from Ryerson University.

Free, Open, ASL and Refreshments provided
OISE, above St. George Subway, 252 Bloor Street West,
5th Floor, Room 5-280

Paper titles to follow

For access or other information contact