Disability in ‘Fact’ and ‘Fiction’ Seminar

Monday, 9th January, 2017 from 12.00pm – 3.00pm

BR G.44 (Lecture Theatre 4) Brooks Building

Birley Fields Campus, 53 Bonsall Street, Manchester, M15 6GX

Book for this event here:


All welcome to this informal seminar afternoon, hosted by the Critical and Community Psychology Research Group in the Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Traveling Blind

Rod Michalko, PhD

Fact and fiction: We apply these categories as though they were clearly opposite to one another – the one, real and the other, made up.  Yet, this binary is itself fictive.  This presentation demonstrates how accounts of human life, including individual life, are, as Thomas King says, stories since stories is all we are.  Traveling blind, especially when you are so, is indeed a story, one with many chapters.  I will tell this story and show how it weaves fiction and non-fiction together and how the binary disappears within the fictional fact of story telling.



Rod Michalko is a retired professor of disability studies from Toronto.  He believes that there is nothing greater than retirement and he hopes that many of you are extremely envious of him.  After many scholarly publications, Rod has turned to writing fiction.  His first collection of short stories will be released in the spring of 2017, titled Things Are Different Here—the title of the collection’s feature story, set in Manchester



Reimagining the Dis/appearance of Disability in the Academy

Dr. Tanya Titchkosky, Professor, Social Justice Education, OISE of the University of Toronto


The management of disability in the academy often proceeds by establishing the fact of impairment. Disability is made to appear as if it is a naturalized fact of disadvantage and is used to mark the spot where critical work stops and regular Western knowledge regimes of science and/or bureaucratic management are invited to begin. Disability is imagined, then, as that place where identified people with problems are managed as misfortunate; yet, rarely do we learn what cultural fictions are organizing this perception. My paper will show how the ordinary perception of disability is organized by and for a race-based thinking. Paul Gilroy (Postcolonial Melancholia, 2005, 37, 38) tells us that the “proliferation” of “race thinking,” not only includes the “hatreds forged” by the tracing of the color line but, also, now includes boundary building accomplished through “genomics, biotechnologies and self-conscious biocolonialisms.” Through these new ways of “doing” race thinking, the brutal production of people classified as less-than-human occurs; as Gilroy puts it, those with an “unadorned inferiority,” the “lowest ontological rung,” the bare life of so called “real” difference. By attending to the movement of disability facts in academic bureaucratic processes and knowledge production, my presentation will interrogate the lines that sustain the status quo. I do so with the hope that by drawing out this narrative structure we may nurture change.





Dr. Tanya Titchkosky, Professor, OISE U of T, is author of Disability, Self, and Society, as well as Reading and Writing Disability Differently and, most recently, The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning.  Tanya works from the position that whatever else disability is, it is tied up with the human imagination — interpretive relations – and needs to be studied as such.  Using critical approaches that question the grounds of Western ways of knowing, such as Critical Indigenous Studies, phenomenology, Black and Queer Studies, Tanya hopes to reveal the restricted imaginaries that surround our lives in and with disability, especially in University settings. Tanya’s work is supported by a Canadian SSHRC grant, “Re-imaging the Appearance and Disappearance of Disability in the Academy.”


What’s New Down Under for People with Learning Disabilities?

A workshop on Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme

22nd April, 2016: Systemic Therapy Seminar Day, 10-2, Brooks, Lecture Theatre 2 Details here:


Seminar: A discourse of ‘we’: gendered subjectivities and caregiving in UK ‘stay-at-home-dads’

Time: 11am – 3 pm Date: Wednesday, 16th March, 2016

Venue: BR 1.66, Brooks Building, Birley Fields Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, M15 6GX

Travel Information here:

Booking information here:



“Disability and the Human” Symposium

Time: 10am – 4 pm

Date: Friday, February 5th, 2016.

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Brooks Building, Birley Fields Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, M15 6GX

Travel Information here:


Book here







Registration & Arrival (Tea/coffee available for purchase)





What’s love got to do with it? Austerity, intimacy and humanity


Kirsty Liddiard, School of Education, University of Sheffield



11.15 – 12.15


Disability, childhood and the human: refusing monstrosity


Katherine Runswick-Cole, The Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing, Manchester Metropolitan University.



12.15 – 1.15


Lunch (Please bring your lunch or purchase on campus)



1.15 – 2.15


Homo-psycho-pharmaceuticus: economic suicides and the global market in debility


China Mills, School of Education, University of Sheffield



2.15 – 2.30




2.30 -3.30 Theorising disability and humanity


Dan Goodley* and Rebecca Lawthom**, *School of Education, The University of Sheffield, **The Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing, Manchester Metropolitan University.



3.30 – 4.00





Abstracts and Biographies


What’s love got to do with it? Austerity, intimacy and humanity

Kirsty Liddiard, School of Education, University of Sheffield


Abstract: In this paper, I examine the intimate human activities of love, labour and care in the lives of disabled people as they are affected by contemporary austerity measures. Disabled people have suffered exponentially through the austerity politics of both the previous Coalition government and the current Conservative government. Significant cuts to a multitude of benefits and public services have exacerbated existing disability oppressions, and have ontologically, psychically, symbolically, materially, emotionally, and affectively stripped disabled people (amongst many other minorities) of their rights and access to justice. Love, labour and care are central here: disabled people are currently fighting, within deeply disablist contexts, to remain part of their communities; stay connected to their partners, children and families; find and stay in meaningful work; be appropriately housed; and participate in civil society – surviving on ever-shrinking incomes and a rolling back of the public services upon which the majority depend. As austerity bites and welfare is rolled back, more emphasis is placed upon individuals to take care of themselves and their loved ones, revealing the extent to which austerity demands ableist citizens. In this paper I begin by sketching out what constitutes the “ideal” intimate citizen, and its ableist underpinnings, before asking some critical questions of disabled people’s rights to and claims for intimate citizenship in an age of austerity (Plummer 2003).


Bio: Kirsty Liddiard is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate within the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. Prior to this post, Kirsty became the inaugural Ethel Louise Armstrong Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Her work centres on the processes of disablism and ableism in the intimate lives of disabled people; this includes sex/uality, pleasure, sex work, family life, psycho-emotional disablism, parenting, and intimate rights, justice and activism. Kirsty incorporates co-production, the arts, and public sociology into her research. Kirsty lives happily with The Boy, The Kid and her cats Bill and Ted and drinks far too much Malibu.


Homo-psycho-pharmaceuticus: economic suicides and the global market in debility

China Mills, School of Education, University of Sheffield


In India and the UK (and many places besides), a growing number of suicides are recorded as being ‘due to economic reasons’, while some write their suicide notes directly implicating the Government for making their lives unliveable. A dominant and increasingly global lens to understand these suicides is to focus on individual psychologies, (re)formulating suicide as a ‘symptom’ of depression, and as amenable to, and preventable through, psycho-pharmaceuticals.

In this session, I want to look through a different lens and to ask a different sort of question. What if instead of understanding these ‘economic’ suicides as symptoms of depression, we understood them as the ultimate culmination of ‘slow death’ – the unequal wearing out of bodies and minds (some more than others) that is itself symptomatic of global capitalism and simultaneously profitable to global markets in debility? I want to situate this question within current politics of negative affect, while simultaneously recognising that this literature often overlooks the psycho-politics of disablement at work within parts of the global South.



China Mills is a Lecturer in Sheffield. Much of her research is around the politics of global mental health and the globalisation of psychiatric diagnoses.



Theorising disability and humanity

Dan Goodley and Rebecca Lawthom


This chapter will draw upon some of our recent work with colleagues in Sheffield and Manchester in Britain[1] and in response to some inspiring writers and writings. Drawing on research projects and intellectual moments of engagement, the chapter considers the ways in which disability disavows normative constructions of the human. We use the term disavowal in its original psychoanalytic sense of the word: to simultaneously and ambivalently desire and reject something (in this case, the human). We will then clarify and expand upon this disavowal – with explicit reference to the politics of people with intellectual disabilities[2] – and make a case for the ways in which the human is (i) a category through which social recognition can be gained and (ii) a classification requiring expansion, extension and disruption. Indeed, an under-girding contention of this chapter is that people with intellectual disabilities are already engaged in what we might term a posthuman politics from which all kinds of human can learn. The chapter outlines seven reasons why we should ask what it means to be human. Then we will move to focus on four very human elements – support, frailty, capacity and desire – and disability’s place in redefining these elements.


[1] (

[2] Throughout the chapter we will use interchangeably use the terms learning disability and intellectual disability to acknowledge the ways in which their different usage reflects different national contexts. Learning disability is preferred in Britain whereas intellectual disability is used in Australia and the States.


Dan Goodley is Professor of Disability Studies and Education at the University of Sheffield. His writing has sought to unravel and contest the dual process of ableism and disablism including Dis/ability Studies (2014, Routledge) and Disability Studies (2011, Sage). He is a father to two daughters, a keen Nottingham Forest FC football fan and a Beatles obsessive.


Rebecca Lawthom is Professor of Community Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her work engages at the intersections of feminism, disability and migration. Publications include Community Psychology (Wiley Blackwell, 2011, with Kagan, Burton and Duckett) and Qualitative Methods in Psychology: A research guide (Open University Press, 2012, with Banister, Bunn, Burman, Daniels, Duckett, Parker, Runswick Cole, Sixsmith and Goodley). She loves Glastonbury Festival and the music of Ron Sexsmith.


Disability, childhood and the human: refusing monstrosity

Katherine Runswick-Cole, The Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing, Manchester Metropolitan University.


Abstract: In this paper, I consider the relationship between disability, childhood and the human drawing on a recently published paper (Goodley, Runswick-Cole and Liddiard, 2015). The aim is to reveal the historical markings of childhood disability as an object of both curiosity and of fear that have served to render disabled children as non-human monsters. In the period of modernity and the rise of capitalism, disability has been marked as antithetical to ‘the human”. And so, in order to refuse social and cultural contexts that have historically denied disabled children’s humanity and cast them as monstrous others, we draw on the developing theoretical notion of the DisHuman: a bifurcated complex that allows us to recognise disabled children’s humanity whilst also celebrating the ways in which disabled children reframe what it means to be human. Drawing on recent research, we explore the spaces where a DisHuman child emerges in moments in which sameness and difference, monstrosity/disability and in/humanity are invoked simultaneously.


Bio: Katherine Runswick-Cole is Senior Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology and Deputy Director of The Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Katherine locates here work in critical disability studies (CDS). CDS seek to understand to understand and challenge exclusionary and oppressive practices associated with disablism and to consider the ways in which these intersect with other forms of marginalisation including hetero/sexism, racism, poverty and imperialism. Much of her research and publications focus on the lives of disabled children, young people and their families and, more recently, she has been working in coproduction with community partners to ask how people with the label of learning disabilities are faring in a time of austerity



Save the Date!

“Disability and the Human” Symposium

Time: 10am – 4 pm

Date: Friday, February 5th, 2016,

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1Brooks Building, Birley Fields Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, M15 6GX

Confirmed speakers include: Dan Goodley (Sheffield); Rebecca Lawthom (Manchester Metropolitan); Kirsty Liddiard (Sheffield); China Mills (Sheffield); Katherine Runswick-Cole (Manchester Metropolitan).

Please book your place via Eventbrite:

For all other inquiries please contact

Travel Information here:

Festival of Community Psychology: Creativity, collaboration and community 

This event features workshops, presentations, panel discussions, posters and performances.

Manchester November 20-21st, Bridge Mill 5, Manchester

The event aims:

  • To share best practice in the pursuit of wellbeing, social justice and community cohesion
  • To celebrate and understand the nature of successful collaborations with community and voluntary sector groups in the areas of creativity, collaboration and community
  • To enable new relationships between community psychologists and the community and voluntary sector to be forged

Who can come ?

Professional psychologists (community psychologists and those form other fields who have an interest in community psychology); professionals from other fields, including community and participatory arts; members of community and voluntary sector groups with an interest in wellbeing, social justice and community cohesion; the general public.

Book a place via

Programme to follow shortly

12.00-2.00pm, Tuesday, 8 September 2015:Critical and Community Psychology Research Group Seminar: ‘I’ve got people here’: Place, space and relationships in the lives of young disabled people in regional Australia.

Brooks Building, Birley Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, 53, Bonsall Street, Manchester, M15 6GX

A sense of belonging and connection is fundamental to young people’s identity. For young people with cognitive disability who live outside of Australian cities, little is known about what helps and what hinders a felt sense of belonging and connection in their communities.

In this seminar, Sally will draw from the methods and results of three recent projects in which we explored with disabled children and young people the conditions which give rise to them having a sense of belonging and connectedness, and to feeling and being safe.

Using social geography and inclusive disability research methodologies, we worked collaboratively to develop approaches to this research which were inviting and accessible to a wide range of young people, using methods including photovoice, pictorial mapping, workshops and traditional and walk-along interviews.

These studies will be used to stimulate dialogue with seminar participants centring on some of the critical questions which emerged for us in conducting research of this nature, including:

  • the ethics and practice of research with young people

with high[er] support needs

  • recognising the significance of negative experiences

(individually and collectively), without allowing them to

ontologically dominate

  • distinctions between policy-focused and theoretically-

oriented research

  • tensions and opportunities in involving those who

support young people in formal and informal ways.


Dr Sally Robinson is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, Australia, where she does participatory and inclusive research with young people with disability and those who support them. Her particular interests centre on the personal safety and harm of people with disability.

For further information about the research mentioned in this flyer, see or

Conversation Analysis (CA) and Intellectual Disabilities:  Dealing with day-to-day participants’ concerns

Chris Walton, The University of Lancaster

Wednesday, 22nd July, 2015 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm  BR G.16, Brooks Building, Birley Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester.

Travel details:

Book your place here:

Conversation Analysis (CA) and Intellectual Disabilities: Dealing with day-to-day participants’ concerns

Chris Walton

Lecturer in Social Psychology

University of Lancaster


Chris Walton will demonstrate the value of applying CA to naturally occurring interactions in several research settings in NHS social care services for people with intellectual disabilities. His research takes up a range of issues: the promotion of choice, the pursuit of informal interactions (hanging out), how displays of affect are understood, and some ways in which gender is made relevant. He will demonstrate how video and audio recordings form the basis of conversation analysis and his talk will provide an opportunity for the audience to engage with the data and the possibilities of CA-based work first hand.

The session will be facilitated by

Jack Levinson

Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Researcher

Disability Studies, School of Education

University of Sheffield

Associate Professor

Department of Sociology

City College of New York, City University of New York


Jack Levinson will present a critical overview of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis as they developed in American sociology from the 1960s and their use in disability studies including his own research. These related empirical approaches are based on phenomenology and offer a valuable alternative to conventional assumptions about objectivity and methods in social science.

For more information contact:


Monday 29th June, 1pm – 5.30pm

Brooks Building, Birley Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University

For further details and to sign up for a ticket please go to:

Professor Rebecca Lawthom’s Inaugural Lecture: Can we be human(e) in (in)human/e times?

Location: Birley Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, 53 Bonsall Street, Manchester, M15 6GX
Date: 4 December 2014, 18:00-20:00

Can we be human(e) in (in)human/e times ? The times they are a changing whether austerity measures, here in the UK or globalization more widely. In this talk, Rebecca will present the benefits of working with and through others in a collective approach. She draws on her communities of inquiry to help address the questions of human beings and being human(e) in opposition to locating ‘revolting subjects’. She will be using ideas of community of practice, community psychology, disability studies, feminism, and co-production to explore this. How might we collectively think about the communities we work with and live in to secure a future with social justice.

Book you place now on Eventbrite

Justice for LB

This lecture is dedicated to the @JusticeforLB campaign (#justiceforLB) and the campaign for justice for all young dudes.

For more information and queries please contact Rebecca Lawthom,

Community Arts as Social and Psychological Medicine?

Location: Birley Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, 53 Bonsall Street, Manchester, M15 6GX
Date: 8 November 2014, 14.00-17.00

Disability and Austerity: impact of the cuts

Location: Birley Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, 53 Bonsall Street, Manchester, M15 6GX
Date: 5 November 2014, 16.00-18.00

This workshop and seminar will be led by people with learning disabilities, family members, activists and allies, and by academics who are currently working to co-produce a research project, ‘Big Society? Disabled people with learning disabilities and Civil Society’. The discussion of disability and austerity responds to the current context of economic restraint and the cumulative impact of the cuts in the lives of disabled people. This will be an opportunity to explore with people with learning disabilities their experiences of community participation through their engagement with employment, self-advocacy and circles of support. This event offers a much needed and timely space for critical reflection on current changes to the delivery of services and welfare reform that are increasingly impacting on the lives of disabled people in England.

Through the event we hope that the audience will gain a better understanding of the impacts of the cuts on disabled people, and that they will gain a better understanding of the ways in which disabled people contribute positively to society in a time of austerity.

The seminar will be led by people with learning disabilities and their allies. They will bring their first hand experiences of living with disability and austerity to a mainstream audience to promote a timely opportunity for lively debate.

For more information and queries please contact Katherine Runswick-Cole,

Register your free place on Eventbrite

This event explores the potential benefits of arts participation in relation to health, wellbeing and social inclusion. Attendees will have the chance to find out about arts for health projects led by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) from the perspective of social science researchers and artists, and to try out various arts activities for themselves. Creative music, dance and Javanese gamelan (percussion orchestra) taster workshops will be on offer, with additional opportunities for those taking part to feedback their own experiences and contribute to a wider discussion. The event is open to anyone with an interest in the topic, no previous experience is required.

It is hoped that attendees will gain a greater awareness of the wider possible benefits of community arts participation, particularly in relation to social and psychological wellbeing across the lifespan. Another aspiration is that some audience members will be inspired by the practical activities on offer to sign up for other arts and health initiatives at MMU and elsewhere.

The event will comprise an interesting and varied mix of activities (seminar, practical workshops, facilitated group discussion), directly linking theory and research to practice. Presented by researchers and artists, the workshops on offer are designed to be accessible, inclusive and to highlight different aspects of artistic practice in relation to wellbeing.

For more information and queries please contact Rachel Swindells,

Register your free place on Eventbrite

Disability/difference and community arts/participation

Social Change and Wellbeing Centre

10.00am-1.30pm on Wednesday 2 July 2014 in Room OB101, Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, Hathersage Road, Manchester M13 0JA

Creative approaches as a way of sense-making are receiving some social science/humanities attention. Working from the local to the global, this session explores methods and approaches that explicitly feature working with difference. Each project theorises and/or works with methods and ways of thinking differently about:

  • How creative participation works,
  • How creative products/processes are engaged with/made,
  • How we approach working with difference?

What shared learning emerges from this? In this session we will share this work with each other and interested others. Taking part in the session will be:

  • Michael Richards – Community radio – working with men with the label of learning difficulties
  • Ornette Clennon – performance ethnography; performing masculinities in a youth offending institution
  • Rachel Swindells and Rebecca Lawthom – working with disability arts organizations in co-production
  • Shaun Grech – doing visual ethnography in Guatemala
  • Crispim Antonio Campos – Disability Through the Pictorial Re-appropriation: Tales of the Path
  • Andrew Stevenson – Dog Team Walking: A Soundwalk in Whitworth Park

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