What role did disabled people play during industrial revolution? – BBC News

Wheelchair or guide dog users are a common enough sight in the workplace today, but what about 200 years ago?

Research by Swansea University and the Wellcome Trust has discovered disabled people were playing equally as big a role in the coal mines of the industrial revolution in Wales.

A blind lift operator and a collier with a wooden leg are just two of the examples found by Daniel Blackie and Mike Mantin during a five-year study into disability and industrial society between 1780 and 1948.

But Dr Blackie, whose research focused on the first half of the period up to 1880, said that did not necessarily mean it was a time of equal opportunities.

He said: “There’s a perception that people with disabilities faced enormous social and economic exclusion during the 19th Century, but what we’ve found is that isn’t strictly true.

“We have numerous examples of people who’ve experienced disabling injuries and illness playing a full part in the mines, and coming up with ingenious ways of helping themselves to adjust.

“But what you quickly realise is that these aren’t all…

Source: What role did disabled people play during industrial revolution? – BBC News.

Remembering the Holocaust – and the disabled victims who died in the T4 programme

Katharine Quarmby

In this extract from my book, Scapegoat: why we are failing disabled people (Portobello, 2011), on Holocaust Memorial Day, I am sharing my analysis of how the T4 Nazi killing machine was inspired by eugenics enthusiasts in the UK and the US. It’s a grim read, I’m afraid, but important to remember why so many people died. Never again.

Extract from: Scapegoat: why we are failing disabled people (Portobello, 2011)

by Katharine Quarmby

The legitimisation of eugenic views through Europe and American ended in a logical, if horrifying outcome: the systematic murder of thousands of disabled people in Germany, after the Nazis came to power in 1933. The National Socialist Party wanted to create a pure Aryan nation, and eradicate the taint of the Jewish people (as well as homosexuals and gypsies) But a lesser known part of their moral thought was that “degenerate”, impaired Aryans should also be eliminated…

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UKIP: Parochialism, Prejudice and Patriotic Ultranationalism.

Although this post from kittysjones is not strictly within the remit I have set myself for First Night History, it does show very clearly what happens when the powers-that-be — in this case the UK government — ignore the past, wilfully or through ignorance, and thus repeat its mistakes to catastrophic effect. I am re-blogging it because I am disgusted and appalled that the Coalition, a government that was not elected, should have discarded everything our forebears stood and fought for. If you are a British citizen who will be voting in the European elections tomorrow, think very carefully how you vote. A vote for UKIP will mean more destruction and fear, not less.

Politics and Insights

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Over the past four years, we have witnessed the political right using rhetoric that has increasingly transformed a global economic crisis into an apparently ethno-political one, and this also extends to include the general scapegoating and vilification of other groups and communities that have historically been the victims of prejudice and social exclusion: the poorest, the unemployed and the disabled. These far-right rhetorical flourishes define and portray the putative “outsider” as an economic threat. This is then used to justify active political exclusion of the constitutive Other.
The poorest have been politically disenfranchised. Politically directed and constructed cultural and social boundaries, exclusionary discourses and practices create and define strangers. In Zygmunt Bauman’s analysis of the Holocaust, the Jews became “strangers” par excellence  in Europe, the Final Solution was an extreme example of the attempts made by societies to excise the (politically defined) uncomfortable and…

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