Lancaster Disability Studies conference 2018

[Image: Artwork ‘Mosaic’ by Raana Salman (2008). A maze-like pattern made from various materials and objects including flowers, pebbles, stone and grass. Description from the conference book, page 5] 

In September I attended the Lancaster Disability Studies conference. I gave two presentations; one in a sexuality-themed session and another one in a symposium that I had arranged, bringing together colleagues from Sweden.

Paper 1: Sexual rights – not(thing) about us?
Based on my current research, focusing on the UK case study and detailing the disability organisations’ work with and advocacy for sexual rights (see previous blog posts for some of the results).

I was delighted to share this session with Kirsty Liddiard, who spoke about her book The intimate lives of disabled people, and Hans Hauge from the University of South-Eastern Norway, who on behalf of his colleague Eva Lill Fossli Vassend presented ‘Agency among young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities seeking intimate relationships and independent family lives’.

Paper 2: Sexuality and austerity
Together with my Swedish colleagues Niklas Altermark, Ida Norberg and Lill Hultman I held the symposium Questioning the “generosity” of the Swedish welfare state– investigating austerity measures against disabled people. We are all studying the consequences of austerity on disabled service users in Sweden, albeit from different perspectives. My paper was a compilation of previous and current research entitled ”Living a (sexual) life like others” – a luxury in times of austerity?, which alludes to one of the central aims of the Swedish disability services law (LSS); to enable service users ‘a life like others’.

I urge you to take a look at the book of abstracts for more information on each presentation, as well as the rest of the conference programme, which was great! For instance, I finally got to learn more about Living Life to the Fullest, a research project based in Sheffield which is conducted in partnership with young disabled women. Coming from Sweden where this type of collaborative research is very much ‘behind’ compared to the UK, it was very inspiring to see how rewarding it is for both the ‘academic researchers’ and the disabled co-researchers.

And quite uncommonly for conferences (in my experience) I actually really enjoyed all of the keynote presentations! I was especially interested in the keynote by Philippa Wiseman, University of Glasgow, who spoke on Embodied citizenship, disability and the public/private divide. I had not read her work before and was delighted to find out that we share the same research interests. Luckily, I found her PhD dissertation Reconciling the ‘Private’ and ‘Public’: disabled young people’s experiences of everyday embodied citizenship available online and will surely find it very useful to my own research!