Skip to content

Posts by Adam Turner

Adventures in the Archives: The Living Past

By Adam Turner

The stereotype of historians isolated in archives with dusty papers and dim lighting has more than a grain of truth to it. Granted, my archive experiences have been more ice cold and brightly lit than dank, but the isolation can be striking. I've spent entire days immersed more in the past than in the world around me. History work can be lonely and leave you feeling cut off from the present. This can actually be useful when it means closer connection with historical actors and their worlds. But you run the risk of getting cut off from everything -- both the past and the present -- during the at-times mind-numbing search for that single piece of valuable evidence within reams of irrelevant material.

After hours of paging through letters, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles unrelated to my own project, I start seeing paper rather than people. At these times, it is easy to forget that the "useless" sources are snippets of people's lives. Even if only momentarily, they intersected with the lives of one or many individuals -- people with full, rich lives outside of my own area of research interest. Because zoning out like this over so many scraps of paper can be such an issue, it's both welcoming and jarring when a source wrenches me out of that funk: when it forces me to come face-to-face with the lived experience of the past.

Read more

The Paralympics, Past and Present

By: Adam Turner

The Paralympics originated in Britain as a venue for people wounded in World War II to compete. Today, the Paralympic Games is one of the largest sporting events in the world. It provides an avenue for people of different physical and developmental types to compete on the world stage in a way they were never allowed to before. Like the Olympics, it celebrates friendly competition, teamwork, determination, and athletic accomplishment. The history of the Paralympics, however, reveals a far more complex picture, fraught with political, social, and even medical tensions. For many years, the Paralympics has received little media attention and poor funding. What little coverage it has gotten often reinforces stereotypes about disability as a personal tragedy to be "overcome" rather than highlighting ability and athleticism.

Read more

No Pies, No Spectacles, No Preaching to Women Alone

by Adam Turner

Even without the festive march of holidays this time of year, these colder (and, here in the US Pacific Northwest, wetter) months put me in a baking frame of mind. Short days, wool socks, and an overtaxed heater seem to call out for some family traditionals -- nisu and an orange-chocolate-chip bread that's practically cake -- and sends me looking for newcomers like these peppermint cream squares. I could joyously do without the barrage of "Little Drummer Boy" covers, but tolerate even the most saccharine of Christmas tunes for the sake of winter cakes, pies, pastries, and cookies.

Read more

Sex and Disability, Part 2

By Adam Turner

This is the second post in a two-part reflection on some of the issues raised by a September BBC news story, Judge Approves Man's Sterilisation in Legal First. (See part one for a synopsis of the story.) In part one I listed three reasons why people often believe adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) should not have sex or sometimes even be in romantic relationships. I discussed number one in part one, and will now look at numbers two and three.

Read more

Sex and Disability, Part 1

By Adam Turner

In September, BBC news ran a story titled, Judge Approves Man's Sterilisation in Legal First. I started reading the story expecting a familiar case of medical authority and restrictive assumptions of what is and isn't normal leading to surgical intervention. Not so. At least not exactly. Partway through the first few paragraphs of the news report I knew this story was much more complicated than I had imagined.

Read more

Reflections: A Conference on Children and “Imperfection”

By Adam Turner

Over the past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the Centre for Medical Humanities Imperfect Children conference at the University of Leicester. The conference included a wonderful mix of disciplines and both historical and present-day perspectives on the concept of "imperfection" and children. This usefully provocative focus led to an ongoing discussion during the two-day meeting about the definition of imperfection and how it relates to concepts like normality, health, and ability.

Read more

A Historian’s Guide to Summer: Back-to-School Mixtape

By Adam Turner

Here in the Pacific Northwest the days are long and hot and the raspberries are ripening, which means that a new school year is upon us. For teachers, it's time to set aside the summer projects, chapters, and books, make a late-summer beverage, and think about teaching. In the interest of celebrating the end of summer, here are some songs that work well in the classroom.

Read more

Sterilization is Not the Solution

By Adam Turner

The recent report from the Center for Investigative Reporting that California prisons failed to follow proper procedures in getting full consent and approval before sterilizing nearly 150 female inmates is both tragic and all too familiar. It raises questions about both the government's role in controlling citizen's childbearing decisions and the degree to which consent can be fully informed and voluntary for less privileged members of society who are often already considered irresponsible and, as many of these women reported, made to feel like they were "less than human" or "bad mother[s]" for saying no. It also calls up memories of America's long history of eugenics, during which these sorts of actions would've not only been acceptable, but lauded.

Read more

Doing History in Public

By Adam Turner
If you've been following Nursing Clio this past week you know by now that we're celebrating our one-year anniversary. As of this post, it's been just over a year since we went live and we're thrilled by the ways we've grown in that time. I'm honored to have been one of the co-founders and still just as excited as I was then to count myself among Nursing Clio's authors. In this final reflective post of our anniversary week I'll explain some of the reasons I'm still so jazzed about Nursing Clio and where I think we can keep growing. Some highlights include, public history, open access, collaboration, breaking down hierarchies, fostering debate, and a look to the near future: self-hosting.

Read more

“Born This Way” Or Not: No Justification Required

By Adam Turner
In the past few weeks I've heard the "born this way" argument pop up all over the place in classes and everyday conversation. I quite appreciate its value as a strong, proud anthem of self-empowerment (implicitly in the face of an unaccepting world). It's also a pretty sweet jam. The foundation associated with it seems also to be up to some great things, and I certainly agree with their mission "to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated." I'm not here to critique the song. But it is a handy jumping-off point for a larger issue

Read more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,260 other followers