Prof. Tom Shakespeare: What are we doing, when we do disability studies?

Professor Tom Shakespeare is visiting the Science Studies Colloquium Series. Shakespeare is trained in social and political sciences at Cambridge University, and has taught and researched at the Universities of Sunderland, Leeds, Newcastle and East Anglia. From 2008-2013 he was a technical officer at the World Health Organisation. Currently Shakespeare is chair of Light for the World - UK, and vice-chair of Light for the World International, see

The seminar is open for everyone!



Over the last forty years, the field of disability studies has emerged from the political activism of disabled people. In this challenging review of the field, leading disability academic and activist Tom Shakespeare argues that disability research needs a firmer conceptual and empirical footing. Using a critical realist approach, Shakespeare promotes a pluralist, engaged and nuanced approach to disability.


Key topics discussed include:

  • Dichotomies – going beyond dangerous polarizations such as medical model versus social model to achieve a complex, multi-factorial account of disability
  • Identity - the drawbacks of the disability movement's emphasis on identity politics
  • Bioethics - choices at the beginning and end of life and in the field of genetic and stem cell therapies
  • Relationships – feminist and virtue ethics approaches to questions of intimacy, assistance and friendship.

After the lecture Jan Grue, Professor at the Department of Special Needs Education, University of Oslo, will have a prepared comment before discussion.

Published Oct. 23, 2018 8:18 AM - Last modified Apr. 4, 2019 3:13 PM