Disability before Disability

Disability before Disability (2017-2020)


Run by the Centre of Disability Studies at UoI under the leadership of Hanna Björg Sigurjónsdóttir, Professor of Disability Studies and funded by IRF Grants of Ecellence program, Disability before Disability was designed as an interdisciplinary project to open up new and understudied perspectives and unheard voices from the past by investigating ‘disability’ (as a concept and embodied experience) in variety of sources from the medieval Icelandic prose literature through history to the personal narratives in the 20st century, folkloric material, artefacts and archaeological evidences. The approach provided the opportunity to investigate society and culture from a radically new perspective and to elucidate the experiences of a social group that has largely been ignored in research of the past. The project was innovative in terms of methodology, using bottom up approach to understand the meaning and experiences of disability for various individuals in their social, cultural and historical context.

One of the outputs of the project is the volume Understanding Disability Throughout History: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Iceland from Settlement to 1936, edited by Hanna Björg Sigurjónsdóttir and James G. Rice, published by Routledge in 2021. My chapter in the book is entitled "Physical impairment and spatial dimensions of everyday life in rural households in pre-industrial Iceland" and addresses the socio-spatial predicaments of the physically impaired in context of the vernacular architecture of the 19th century turf-house, the predominant form of housing in pre-modern Iceland.

For the projects website see: Disability Before Disability