Perspectives on Diversity: The Cultural Life of Absence

10 - 13 January 2016

Venue: Lorentz Center@Snellius

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In considering cultural aspects of life we often are aware of the diversity of cultures. Multiculturalism is a common perspective. Yet we forget the diverse perspectives within each culture taken by those who experience their daily reality in different ways due to a so-called “disability”. People who are deaf, blind or have autism or a language impairment have their own perspectives but these have been neglected. When such perspectives are considered, then it is often in terms of absence. Why assume that the only way to reflect on "disability" is through negative prisms such as "absence"? This workshop will break new ground by challenging important conceptions such as "presence/absence", "discourse" or talking about "the other" in order to achieve a more nuanced and diverse analysis of reality. Medical discourse often emphasizes the normalization of individuals in their functioning within society by way of marginalizing, silencing and othering. Reflections will come from considering historical and cultural developments in this area and current emancipatory actions to remove the stigma of "disability".


There will be a Public Event on 10 January in Museum Boerhaave with professor Douwe Draaisma and the artists Vincent Bijlo and Jascha Blume. The workshop that links up to this event seeks to redefine the plurality of reality avoiding the concept of "absence". The final aim will be the writing of a pamphlet in which all interest groups are represented. This pamphlet will be sent to the groups in order to form the basis for a second workshop in which the interaction between science and the public will be further explored. During the Public Event and the workshop, sign language interpreters will be present, and presentations will be adapted to the wide variety in the audience present.


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