Understanding Disability Throughout History : Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Iceland from Settlement to 1936 book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9781032018270
Published October 28, 2021 by Routledge
198 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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



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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.