DRF News

CFP: Disability and Impairment: a Technological Fix? (Nov. 2015: UK)

Event Title: Disability and Impairment: a Technological Fix?

Date: 27th November 2015

Location: London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London, EC1R 0HB

Part of Disability History Month and supported by the King’s Fund, this conference will feature a range of speakers including community groups, heritage organisations and academics.


Papers are invited from across the heritage, cultural, academic and grassroots communities. Our aim is to generate a dialogue between these groups through a programme of presentations and shorts talks discussing the theme of technological change and the portrayal of disability then and now.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Assistive technology– the changing ways in which technology has been seen to act as an equaliser and a ‘fix’ for disability
  • Medical technology– the ways in which new medical technology has affected concepts of what is “normal”
  • A revolution?– comparisons of the portrayal of disability in the information age with agricultural and industrial societies.

We invite short abstracts of between 50 and 200 words for informal 10 minute presentations that share work-in- progress or provide an introduction to new projects or research that address these themes.  We also invite abstracts for 20 minute papers or presentations exploring them themes in more detail.

This conference is being delivered on a not for profit basis and the organisers are unable to cover speakers costs except in cases where speakers would otherwise be prevented from attending for financial reasons.

Abstract deadline: 1 October 2015

Abstracts to: tom.furber@cityoflondon.gov,uk

DRF News

PhD Opportunities – ‘Biohybrid Human Network’ @ Univ. of Sheffield

Multidisciplinary PhDs in Social Science, Humanities, Bioscience and Engineering: Biohybrid Human Network

Deadline for applications: 17th January 2014; Entry date: 1st October 2014

***project 5 and 6 might be of particular interest to disability studies peeps***

Background: Rapid developments in bioengineering, computer science, psychology, and biomedicine are leading to increasing levels of interaction between humans and emerging biotechnologies in a wide range of settings from the clinic to the classroom. The use of these new technologies takes many forms, including implants, prosthetics, drugs and devices that modify or augment the body, and at the same time create new forms of individual and collective identity. These changes challenge both existing scientific and cultural categories and blur the boundaries between natural, social, and synthetic objects. The blurring of these boundaries raises important issues such as at what point does biology become artefact and technology become alive? In our increasingly biohybrid world, what does it mean to be living? And what does it mean to be human? The goal of the Biohybrid Human Network is to understand both the interactions and the distinctions between what we are and what we create, and to improve how we interact with our inventions. It involves academics from across the University of Sheffield and is initially focussed around three core research themes; i) biohybrid systems, ii) biohybrid individuals, iii) biohybrid societies. 

We aim to create a cohort of PhD students who will work with the Biohybrid community to unite the pure and social sciences, medicine, engineering, and the arts. This requires flexible individuals with a range of backgrounds who will learn from each other and gain a wide range of research skills and enhanced interdisciplinary knowledge.   We welcome applications from students who should have or expect to achieve an undergraduate honours degree at 2.1 or higher in a relevant field e.g. in computer science, cognitive science, Ecology, environmental engineering, neuroscience, psychology, social science or humanities. Students will receive a scholarship which will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate and an annual stipend equivalent at the standard RCUK rate for 3 years full-time.

Projects available through the network:

  1. Communicating with the environment through artificial ears: Perception of emotion in speech and music by cochlear implant users (Renee Timmers,r.timmers@sheffield.ac.uk; Department of Music).
  2. Synthetic ecology: Engineering natural system (Jags Pandhal,j.pandhal@sheffield.ac.uk; Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering).
  3. Towards an embodied model of multimodal musical learning (Stuart Wilson,s.p.wilson@sheffield.ac.uk; Department of Psychology).
  4. Modelling the (biohybrid) human using ‘living machines (Paul Martin,paul.martin@sheffield.ac.uk; Department of Sociological Studies).
  5. Posthuman, enhanced and lacking bodies: Rethinking the human (Dan Goodley,d.goodley@sheffield.ac.uk; School of Education).
  6. Posthumanism, migrant and dis/abled bodies (Nishat Awan,n.awan@sheffield.ac.uk; School of Architecture).

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor(s) directly to discuss and develop a project idea that interests them. Formal applications including a 3 page summary of the project idea (developed in collaboration with the lead supervisor), CV (with reference details – we will NOT contact your referees; it is your responsibility to request references and ensure we receive them), and degree transcripts (if available) should be submitted to the lead supervisor of the project you are interested in by 17thJanuary 2014.

The advert is live at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/scholarships/projects/biohybrid

DRF News

Third Keynote Title and Abstract Announced for Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference (Chester, UK: June 2012)

Proving that good things come in threes… we are pleased to announce the details of our third keynote for Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference at the University of Chester (June 26th-27th 2012).

Margrit Shildrick (Professor of Gender and Knowledge Production, Linkoping University, Sweden) will be discussing….

Title: Celebrating Crip Pleasure: The Somatechnics of Disability and Desire

Abstract: In this presentation, I intend to address pleasure and desire in the disabled body in relation to somatechnics in which embodiment is always technologised. The focus will primarily be on sexuality, but also on other bodily engagements.

As one aspect of biotechnology, prostheses have long been in term use as compensatory technologies that stand in for some putative lack or deficiency that is supposedly the mark of anomalous embodiment. More recently, however, the emphasis has firmly switched to enhancement and supplement, and it is that more productive trajectory that I shall pursue. My argument is that in the era of postmodernity, the disabled body specifically can raise acute questions about the always ambivalent relationship between embodied subjects, pleasure and biotechnology. Desire is no longer focussed on the replication of a more or less acceptable model of normative practices but on a highly productive alternative that inevitably queers the meaning of sexuality itself.

For Further Details on the conference, including registration – please click here