1st Edition

Understanding Disability Throughout History Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Iceland from Settlement to 1936

Edited By Hanna Björg Sigurjónsdóttir, James G. Rice Copyright 2022
    198 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    198 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Understanding Disability Throughout History explores seldom-heard voices from the past by studying the hidden lives of disabled people before the concept of disability existed culturally, socially and administratively.

    The book focuses on Iceland from the Age of Settlement, traditionally considered to have taken place from 874 to 930, until the 1936 Law on Social Security (Lög um almannatryggingar), which is the first time that disabled people were referenced in Iceland as a legal or administrative category. Data sources analysed in the project represent a broad range of materials that are not often featured in the study of disability, such as bone collections, medieval literature and census data from the early modern era, archaeological remains, historical archives, folktales and legends, personal narratives and museum displays. The ten chapters include contributions from multidisciplinary team of experts working in the fields of Disability Studies, History, Archaeology, Medieval Icelandic Literature, Folklore and Ethnology, Anthropology, Museum Studies, and Archival Sciences, along with a collection of post-doctoral and graduate students.

    The volume will be of interest to all scholars and students of disability studies, history, medieval studies, ethnology, folklore, and archaeology.

    Rannveig Traustadóttir

    Hanna Björg Sigurjónsdóttir and James G. Rice

    Chapter One: Disability in Medieval Iceland: Some Methodological Concerns
    Christopher Crocker, Yoav Tirosh, and Ármann Jakobsson

    Chapter Two: Beneath the Surface: Disability in Archaeological and Osteobiographical Contexts
    Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir and Joe W. Walser III

    Chapter Three: One Story, One Person: The Importance of Micro/Bio Research for Disability Studies
    Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon

    Chapter Four: The Peculiar Attitude of the People – The Life and Social Conditions of One "Feebleminded" Girl in the Early 20th Century
    Guðrún V. Stefánsdóttir and Sólveig Ólafsdóttir

    Chapter Five: From a Life with a Different Body to a Recreated Folklore of Accentuated Difference: Sigríður Benediksdóttir vs. Stutta-Sigga
    Eva Þórdís Ebenezersdóttir and Sólveig Ólafsdóttir

    Chapter Six: Dis-/abling Absence: Absencepresence as Matters that Matter
    Arndís Bergsdóttir

    Chapter Seven: Health, Healing, and the Social Body in Medieval Iceland
    Christopher Crocker and Yoav Tirosh

    Chapter Eight: Physical Impairment and The Spatial Dimensions of Everyday Life in Rural Households in Pre-Industrial Iceland
    Ólafur Rastrick

    Chapter Nine: Guðmundur Bergþórsson as Creator and Creation: A Folk Narrative Study of a 17th Century Disabled Poet
    Alice Bower

    Chapter Ten: Fictive Osteobiographical Narrative – The Missing Puzzle Pieces
    Haraldur Thor Hammer Haraldsson

    Hanna Björg Sigurjónsdóttir and James G. Rice




    Hanna Björg Sigurjónsdóttir is a Professor of Disability Studies at the School of Social Sciences, University of Iceland. She received her doctorate in disability studies from the University of Sheffield in 2005. She is the Principle Investigator for the Disability before Disability project funded by the Icelandic Research Fund.

    James G. Rice is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the School of Social Sciences, University of Iceland. He received his doctorate in anthropology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2007. He is currently the Lead Researcher in the project "Disability, immigration and multigeneration: intersecting factors in child protection cases," funded by the University of Iceland's research fund.