Alter-habilitas (ENG)

Alter-habilitas. Perception of disability among peoples
Towards the creation of an International Network of Studies


Alteritas, a research institution devoted to the study of interaction among peoples through history, is pleased to present a new international project about the perception of disability among peoples of different culture and origins.

«Disability is an evolving concept and […] results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others» (UN, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, redacted 2006, in force from 2008). According to United Nations estimates, people with disabilities are about 10% of the world’s population. Moreover, road accidents, accidents at work, malnutrition and congenital or acquired diseases contribute to increase the number in society. Furthermore, this significant percentage will rise because it does not actually include people with psychomotor limitations caused by old age.

Disability is a complex phenomenon whose identification and definition depend not only on the physical, intellectual, mental or sensory impairment, but also on the social and cultural conditions on which it is placed. As recent studies have demonstrated, ways in which a society perceives disabled persons and how it behaves towards them come from criteria on which society builds bonds of inclusion and exclusion and progressively breaks them down. Moreover, the idea of disability is indissolubly linked to how people represent and see themselves. As a consequence, disability is a physical and cultural condition that has changed during history; indeed, it is the socio-cultural contest that determines some physical, sensorial, behavioural and relational differences which are believed to be problematical and, therefore, determines a solution in different fields (assistance, medical, social, political, pedagogical and so on). In that sense, it is necessary to think about who was and who is the disabled person and how different societies have elaborated and elaborate disability.

Alteritas plans to study how disabled persons are perceived in different cultures and their history. Thanks to a well-known and solid method of analysis focused on a multidisciplinary and historically open approach, it aims to examine the definition, the language and ways of attitudes towards the disabled person with the purpose of better understanding the phenomenon and to create an effective comparison between the various ideas of disability and their solutions. Through conference, roundtable meetings, research and specific events, Alteritas promises to build a wide network of interaction between people that agree with the project with the intent to study the topic in detail as much as possible.

Scientific and organizational board:
Alfredo Buonopane, Silvia Carraro, Vittorio dell’Aquila, Paola Gueresi, Simona Marchesini, Silvia Negrotti, Maria Clara Rossi, Francesca Vitali
Silvia Carraro, Simona Marchesini