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Paul van Trigt and Anna Derksen receive grants

Paul van Trigt and Anna Derksen, both researchers in the project 'Rethinking Disability', received grants for research abroad.

Paul van Trigt received a Library Research Grant from the Friends of the Princeton University Library scheme to undertake research in the special collections of the Firestone Library at Princeton. During his stay in February 2019, he will be investigating materials concerning the United Nations Decade for Women (1975-1985) with special attention to the Margarita Papandreou Papers, with the aim to develop an innovative intervention into existing literature on human rights. In the historiography of international human rights, the emphasis is typically placed on political rights in the context of wars and totalitarian regimes. Often overlooked is, however, the fact that since the 1970s the concept of human rights has been also increasingly used for framing the case of groups such as women, indigenous people, migrants and people with disabilities. This resulted in new international law-making, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). Even on those occasions when these groups are addressed in the international arena, they are typically viewed in humanitarian terms as passive sufferers. By contrast, the proposed research will illuminate that members of these groups were agents in their own rights and were actively involved in the conceptualization of their case in terms of human rights.

Anna Derksen received a residential scholarship for September 2018 from the Swedish Foundation Fru Mary von Sydows, född Wijk, donationsfond to carry forward her PhD dissertation within the research project 'Rethinking Disability – the Global Impact of the International Year of Disabled Persons 1981 in Historical Perspective'. During her stay at Villa Martinson, a residence for writers and academic researchers near Gothenburg, she will look into the changing socio-political conceptions, negotiations and practices of disability in the Nordic welfare societies between the late 1960s and early 1990s. To this end, the analysis of extensive archival material of governmental institutions, organizations of persons with disabilities and the media will be combined with a particular local focus on the so-called Handikapp Forum '81 in Gothenburg, an event that stirred heated debates between the Swedish authorities and disability activists about how to bring about equal rights and social participation in a time that increasingly exposed the universalistic claims of the Nordic welfare model to the scrutiny of civil actors.

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