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.”

Podcast Episode 41 – Disability, Adoption, Risk, and the Modern American Family

Sandy Sufian discusses her latest book, Familial Fitness: Disability, Adoption, and Family in Modern America.

Episode Image: Cover of Familial Fitness by Sandra M. Sufian. The cover is white with an indigo blue newborn’s footprint on it. The footprint looks like the prints taken for birth certificates right after a baby is born.

Download mp3 file here.
Download pdf transcript here.

About our Guest

Sandy Sufian is a historian of medicine and disability at University of Illinois at Chicago. She holds joint appointments  in the Department of Medical Education in the College of Medicine (Health Humanities) and in the Department of Disability and Human Development in the College of Applied Health Sciences. She is cofounder of the Cystic Fibrosis Reproductive and Sexual Health Collaborative and serves on the editorial board of Disability Studies Quarterly. Her most recent book is Familial Fitness: Disability, Adoption, and Family in Modern Americaa history of the adoption of children with disabilities in the US during the twentieth century.

Sandy studies how biological and contextual factors interact to shape disability and illness experiences. She centers patients’ voices in her research to best understand the complexity of their lives and their health status. She is specifically interested in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, chronic illness, family and kinship, and best-practices for patient-centered research outcomes. She teaches graduate and medical students about patient-centered and contextual care, social aspects of illness and disability, and the social and structural determinants of health.

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.

Podcast Episode 40 – Disability History in Eastern Europe: A Roundtable Discussion

Guest host Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon talks with Dr. Maria Bucur, Dr. Frances Bernstein, Dr. Maria Cristina Galmarini, and Dr. Magdalena Zdrodowska about the history of disability in Eastern Europe.

A disabled Soviet veteran with no legs sits in a wheelchair that rolls several inches above the ground. He sits on a street curb surrounded by standing military personnel on his right hand side. A small crowd of children stand to his right and look down at him.

Episode image: A disabled Soviet veteran with no legs sits in a wheelchair that rolls several inches above the ground. He sits on a street curb surrounded by standing military personnel on his right hand side. A small crowd of children stand to his right and look down at him.

Download mp3 file here.

Download pdf transcript here.

Download show notes (compiled by Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon) here.

About our Guests

Dr. Maria Bucur is Professor of Gender Studies and History at Indiana University in the USA. She has published extensively on gender, eugenic, medicine, and disability in interwar and state socialist Romania. Professor Bucur’s first book, Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romaniawas published in 2002. Her current research project focuses on developing a platform for the study of the history of disabilities in Eastern Europe. 

Dr. Frances Bernstein is Associate Professor of History at Drew University in New Jersey, USA. the mid-twentieth century. Her research focuses on disability, gender, sexuality, medicine, and the body in the Soviet context. Professor Bernstein’s first book, The Dictatorship of Sex: Lifestyle Advice for the Soviet Masses was published in 2007. Her current book project is titled City of Broken Men: Disability, Memory, and Masculinity at the End of World War Two

Dr. Maria Cristina Galmarini is Associate Professor of History and Global Studies at William & Mary University in Virginia, USA. Her research focuses on social rights for marginalized groups, especially people with disabilities, in the early Soviet Union. Professor Galmarini’s first book, The Right to Be Helped: Entitlement, Deviance, and the Soviet Moral Order, was published in 2016 by Northern Illinois University Press. She has an upcoming book, titled Ambassadors of Social Progress A History of International Blind Activism in the Cold War, which will be published in Winter 2023. 

Dr. Magdalena Zdrodowska is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Audiovisual Art at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. Her research focuses on the history of Deafness, disability, media, and technology. Professor Zdrodowska’s latest book is titled Telephones, cyborgs, and cinema: Entangled relations between deafness and technology and was published in Polish in 2021. Her current research project is titled The Deaf History of Cinema. Professor Zdrodowska is also an advocate for disability studies in Poland, and she is the Chair of the Disability Studies in Eastern Europe-Reconfigurations research platform. 

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.