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2004 Conference Archive
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Explaining the development of the Cypriot disability movement: A preliminary theoretical model

Simoni Symeonidou, University of Cambridge

Powerpoint presentation


This paper aims to present the methodological reasoning and part of the findings of a research into the development of the disability movement in Cyprus since its emergence in the 1960s. The study is seeking to make sense of the development of disabled people's activism in Cyprus by locating the movement in a changing historical context and by interpreting disabled activists' understanding of their experiences both as disabled people and as disabled activists within the disability movement.

Firstly, I will present the methodological reasoning of the study. I will also explain how I attempt to combine historical and disability studies by considering the underpinning principles of the two types of research. From the historian's point of view, it is essential to reconstruct the past and to describe it as it really was. For the disability studies researcher the focus is on exploring dominant issues within the field, such as the materialist and post-materialist stance of the disability movement, the importance of the personal experience of disability to the development of the disability movement etc. Second, I will present a preliminary theoretical model to explain how the development of the disability movement can be conceptualised with regard to the personal experience of disability of disabled activists. I will argue that the development of the disability movement is closely related to the activists' personal experience of disability and that the personal experience of disability can influence and be influenced by the disability movement. To justify the emergence of this preliminary model I will draw upon part of the findings of this research to explain how the historical development of the movement (how the movement has developed over time, which important events marked its overall action and had an impact on its changing agendas and how it has represented disabled people to the dialogue with the state) and the personal experience of disabled activists can contribute to our understanding of the development of a national disability movement.

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