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Disability and Self-Governance

Foto Harry Pot / Anefo (CC0): Mies Bouwman tijdens de actie Open het Dorp


prof. dr. M.K. Baár

dr. P.W. van Trigt
prof. dr. M.K. Baár
E. Pollaert

Instelling: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Tijdsduur: 1 juni 2022 tot 1 juni 2027

Onderzoeksprogramma: SGW Open Competitie

Dossiernummer: 406.20.HW.004

The Village: the idea of an accessible neighbourhood for people with disabilities is gaining traction in several countries. Together with two PhD students, Baár and Van Trigt will investigate how this spread took place. They also want to map the local history of the neighbourhood near Arnhem, partly by using oral history to record residents’ stories. The project should also help to safeguard Het Dorp’s endangered archives and historical objects, which are falling into deterioration.


How can engagement with the concept of disability contribute to writing more inclusive histories? The project pioneers this concept as its central analytical category for undertaking the first comprehensive historical study of Het Dorp â?? a self-governing, accessible residential community for people with severe physical disabilities and chronic illness near Arnhem which was initiated in 1962 by the largest telethon in Dutch history. Employing the methodologies of global microhistory and participatory heritagization the research pursues four major aims:


  1. It reconstructs the (micro) history of het Dorp and uses it as a platform for addressing issues of societal exclusion & inclusion, accessible living, citizens’ rights and responsibilities and the changing role of the welfare state in providing for vulnerable groups in the Netherlands and globally
  2. It generates new insights into postwar global history by illuminating het Dorps enormous and hitherto entirely unrecognized impact as a model inclusive establishment in several countries across the world and by reconstructing its extensive transnational networks which crossed ideological divides.
  3. It adopts a public history perspective and with the active participation of het Dorps community members it integrates its multifarious societal, cultural and architectural legacy into the field of heritage and memory studies.
  4. Synthetizing the accumulated knowledge at the meta-level it instigates new theoretical and empirical avenues in the historiography of disability that challenge and diversify the Anglo-American perspectives currently dominating the field.