2023 DHA Outstanding Book Award

The Disability History Association (DHA) is delighted to announce the results of the 2023 Outstanding Book Award. The depth and breadth of this year’s submissions, as well as of the individual works, are a testament to the continued vitality of disability history and to its capacity for expanding the historical discipline more broadly. Please join the DHA in extending congratulations and appreciation to Wei Yu Wayne Tan (winner) and Alexandre Sumpf (honorable mention), as well as to the communities that fostered their scholarship.

Wei Yu Wayne Tan was declared the winner for Blind in Early Modern Japan: Disability, Medicine, and Identity (University of Michigan Press, 2022).

Cover of book Blind in Early Modern Japan: Disability, Medicine, and IdentityThe committee’s comments included:

Blind in Early Modern Japan is a “carefully constructed work [that] fills in vital historical gaps: early modern era, Japan, and blind history.” It is “an impressive piece of scholarship” that “reveals new understandings of the relationships between medicine/systems of medicine and being blind, as well as how (a non-Western) religion contributed to the meaning and experience of being blind.” Tan “has done a superb job of locating and interpreting from a disability history perspective the experiences of blind people,” showing “how blind people formed an identifiable group of professionals from musicians, acupuncturists, and scholars, among other occupations, with elite males forming their own guild.” Ultimately, “there are many things to commend [in] this book’s contributions to disability history.”

Alexandre Sumpf was awarded the honorable mention for The Broken Years: Russia’s Disabled War Veterans, 1904-1921 (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Cover of book The Broken Years: Russia's Disabled War Veterans, 1904-1921The committee’s comments included:

“A superbly researched study of disabled veterans in Russia,” The Broken Years “addresses a significant omission in the historical record and insists on the important role disabled veterans have played in Russia’s past.” Characterized by “extensive, wide-ranging, and multilingual archival work,” the book importantly draws upon “first-person accounts from disabled soldiers’ points of view.” Sumpf is “expansive yet meticulous in his argument,” challenging readers “to consider wars as interlocking rather than discrete and individual: this is particularly useful for disability historians across many regions and eras.”

Announcement: Winner of the DHA’s Research for Justice and Equity Award

The Disability History Association (DHA) is delighted to announce the results of the inaugural Research for Justice and Equity Award. Please join me in extending congratulations and appreciation to Nandana R for “Between the Politics of Pain and Care: Studying the Public Discourse of Disability in Kasargod-Endosulfan Episode.” 

“Between the Politics of Pain and Care” uses a Critical Disability Studies lens to consider media representations of the  Kasargod-Endosulfan episode. These representations, intended to elicit fear or pity in the aftermath, cast the people harmed by the extensive and sustained environmental damage as a “metaphor for social injustice.” The project also explores ways that the process of “visibilising” multiply-marginalized peoples can contribute to the empowerment of debilitated disability communities. The award will support archival and ethnographic work in Trivandrum, Thrissur, Calicut, and Kasargod. 

The Board of Directors would also like to thank Susan Burch, Ella Callow, and Caroline Lieffers for the thoughtful collaboration that recognized the extraordinary potential of this project.

Call for Panelists for OAH 24

The Disability History Association seeks participants for a solicited panel on teaching disability history at the Organization of American Historians conference in April 2024. 

The panel will be chaired by Jenifer Barclay. We aim to create a space for sharing approaches to class design, strategies for crafting accessible and compelling syllabi, and ideas for effective lessons and activities centered on any aspect of American disability history. We hope to highlight diverse perspectives and experiences as well as creative approaches to pedagogy. 

The OAH prohibits participants from appearing on the program more than once, so eligible participants cannot already be participating in another panel at OAH 24. Interested scholars should email a 100-word abstract, a brief biographical statement, and full contact information (affiliation, email, phone, and address) by May 5, 2023 to Sarah Handley-Cousins, sarahhandleycousins@gmail.com.

Call for Applicants: Director of Awards (Board of Directors, Disability History Association)

If you want to support, promote, and celebrate the history of disability, the Board of Directors of the Disability History Association (DHA) invites you to apply for the open position of Director of Awards. In addition to participating in the general governance of the organization as a DHA board member, the person in this directorship:

  • oversees the DHA’s portfolio of awards, working with other directors to ensure that these opportunities are advertised, adjudicated, and awarded on schedule;
  • consults with members of the greater disability history community to ensure that the adjudication process is fair, transparent, and relevant to the community’s needs;
  • recruits individuals to serve on award committees; and
  • develops and amends descriptions, policies, and procedures related to awards, as needed.

This is a volunteer, non-profit board position with a time commitment of approximately 2-5 hours per week. Directors serve for three years and, during their tenure, are ineligible for awards sponsored or co-sponsored by the DHA.

Deadline.  The Board will accept applications through the end of Monday, April 10, 2023.  

To Apply.  Please contact disability.history@gmail.com with 1) a current CV or resume and 2) a brief letter (maximum one page, please) describing your interest in the position.

Anti-Oppression Commitment.  Individuals from marginalized and equity-seeking communities, as well as community-based scholars and those who are precariously or under-employed, are particularly encouraged to apply. The successful applicant will be elected by the Board of Directors and notified by email.