The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)


Session 41. Embodying Impairment: Towards a Bioarchaeology of Disability. Invited Poster Symposium. Chair: Jennifer F. Byrnes

March 27, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 3 Add to calendar

Human societies have identified, understood, and responded to physical and mental impairments in myriad ways. According to the modern medical model, impairments result in disability. In contrast, many social theorists argue that disability is a constructed identity - a social model that hinges on environmental barriers, both physical and social. More recently, new models such as the interactional model address the complex relationships among impairment, disability, and identity.  This model complicates the interconnections between impairment (body) and disability (socio-cultural), and asserts that the latter cannot be defined without the former. Ostensibly irrefutable evidence of the social construction of disability exists in the form of diverse cultural reactions to similar impairments, ranging from the assignment of disability to alternate ability.  The experience of impairment often intersects with other embodied identities to create a new and dynamic social identity.

Embracing a cross-disciplinary lens, this session explores a diverse array of perspectives for understanding disability and impairment in the past. The discussion of current disability theories, methods, and practices across the disciplines is placed within larger schema to pave the way for bioarchaeological discourse. Different avenues of evidence as they manifest in the documentary, ethnographic, archaeological and biological records are presented. The neglected study of disability in the past can further our anthropological focus and awareness of human culture and more specifically, human behavioral responses to impairment. There is also an emphasis on differential health, lifestyle, and attitudes towards disability and impairment cross-culturally and through time.

Discussion: Russell Shuttleworth and Katherine Dettwyler
1 Add to calendar Withdrawn. Questioning Disability: Physical Impairment, Disabled Identities and Deviant Burial in Late Roman Britain. William A. Southwell-Wright.
2 Add to calendar Differently Abled?: Africanisms, Disability, and Power in the Age of Atlantic Slavery. Jenifer Barclay.
3 Add to calendar Kojo’s (Dis)ability: Interpreting Impairment in an 18th Century Jamaican Maroon Community. David A. Ingleman.
4 Add to calendar Anglo-Saxon concepts of dis/ability: placing disease at Great Chesterford in its wider context. Simon Mays, Sonia R. Zakrzewski, Sarah A. Inskip, Stephanie Wright, Joanna R. Sofaer.
5 Add to calendar Rendered "unfit": Impairment, disability and the children of the Erie County Poorhouse. Jennifer L. Muller.
6 Add to calendar Quantifying impairment and disability in bioarchaeological assemblages. Ann L.W. Stodder.
7 Add to calendar Using Population Health Constructs to Explore Disability in Bioarchaeology. Janet L. Young, Edward Lemaire.
8 Add to calendar Injuries, Impairments, and Intersecting Identities: The Poor in Buffalo, NY, 1851-1913. Jennifer F. Byrnes.
9 Add to calendar Distinguishing impairment from disability in the bioarchaeological record: An example from DeArmond mound (40RE12) in east Tennessee. Jonathan D. Bethard, Elizabeth A. DiGangi, Lynne P. Sullivan.
10 Add to calendar Disability, care, and identity in the Middle Woodland period: Life at the juncture of achondroplasia, pregnancy, and treponematosis. Aviva A. Cormier.
11 Add to calendar Withdrawn. The Identification of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Disability: Exploring Adult English Medieval Populations (1066AD - 1600AD) . Julie Peacock.