Documentary and Disability


This is an edited collection (Palgrave, 2017), edited by Catalin Brylla and Helen Hughes. It explores the intersection between documentary film and disability studies. Documentary has played a significant role in the social construction of disability, and several essays exist in different contexts that explore both the destructive and the positive aspects of this history. Thus, the proposed volume aims to make an explicit connection between these two fields in order to understand better how the tools of documentary studies and disability studies can be brought to bear in understanding the past and the current potential of documentary in the socio-cultural construction and awareness of disability. Consequently, the volume illuminates the topic not only from an academic perspective but will also offer a practice-focussed viewpoint from industry practitioners and practice-based researchers. It is intended to fill a gap in both disciplines: on one hand, documentary studies need to discuss contemporary portrayals of disability, practices of disabled filmmakers and industry policies that determine access, inclusion and representation; on the other hand, some of the many areas of disability studies need to adopt more explicit methodologies that explore film texts, authorship and spectatorship in order to assess the current situation of disability in the television and independent documentary sector. On a more social level, the purpose of this volume is to address the medial construction of disability and reduce “otherness” as a phenomenon of cultural stigmatisation.




Foreword (Michael Schillmeier)

Introduction (Catalin Brylla and Helen Hughes)

Part One: Film Practice

  • Chapter 1: Not Without Us – Collaborating Across Difference in Documentary Filmmaking (Samuel Avery)
  • Chapter 2: Visual Psychological Anthropology and the Lived Experience of Disability (Robert Lemelson, Annie Tucker)
  • Chapter 3: Valorising Disability On Screen And Why Has ‘Inspirational’ Become A Dirty Word? (Veronica Wain)
  • Chapter 4: Spectatorship and Alternative Portrayals of Blindness (Catalin Brylla)
  • Chapter 5: Documentary and Aberrancy (Phoebe Hart)

Part Two: Representation

  • Chapter 6: Thomas Quasthoff and the Performativity of (Dis-)ability (Anna Drum, Martin Brady)
  • Chapter 7: Rethinking Ability and Disability in the Work of Van der Keuken (Hing Tsang)
  • Chapter 8: The Phenomenology of Animated Documentaries on Disability (Slava Greenberg)
  • Chapter 9: The Poetics of Touch: Mediating the Reality of Deaf-blindness in Planet of Snail (Anne-Marie Callus)
  • Chapter 10: Yes, we fuck! – Sexual Dissidence and Crip Empowerment (Andrea García-Santesmases)

Part Three: Identity, Participation and Exhibition

  • Chapter 11: Alternative Ethical Maps of In(ter)depenent Living in Global Disability Documentary (David Mitchell, Sharon Snyder)
  • Chapter 12: Interface Productions and Disability Programming for Channel 4, 1984 – 1986 (Tony Steyger, Jamie Clarke)
  • Chapter 13: Disability and the Para-TV Communities of Reality Television (Anita Biressi)
  • Chapter 14: The Production of Disability in Televisual Experimental Systems (Robert Stock)
  • Chapter 15: To Document is to Preserve: Moving Pictures and Sign Language (Magdalena Zdrodowska)
  • Chapter 16: Documenting Neuropolitics: Cochlear Implant Activation Videos (Beate Ochsner)
  • Chapter 17: On Andrew Kötting’s Mapping Perception (Helen Hughes)