Disability and the History of Medicine

Wednesday October 13

5:30 PM  –  6:30 PM

Dierdre Cooper Owens, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Jaipreet Virdi, University of Delaware; Michael Rembis, University at Buffalo


Medicine and technology impact the lived experiences of disabled people in many ways. Advances improve people’s lives, however many of these have come at the cost of invasive diagnostic technologies, the medicalization of human conditions, and endless quests for cures. Doctors have performed experiments on the poor and disempowered; especially enslaved Black and institutionalized people who had limited public voice. Writing medical history must include disabled people and use their experiences as analytical lenses for understanding historical events. Taking inspiration from the disability rights movement and the interdisciplinary field of disability studies, our discussion will delve into what has been written as traditional medical history and how we can tell a more complete story.