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ePortfolio of Beckie Rutherford

Research Overview

My research is co-supervised by Dr Laura Schwartz and Dr Claire Shaw and is kindly funded through a departmental scholarship. My project is provisionally entitled ‘Disabled Women Organising: Rethinking Agency Within British Liberation Movements, c. 1976-2000’. I examine the life stories of disabled women and their relationship to both the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Disabled People’s Movement in Britain. Three broad questions are currently shaping my research:

  • How did disabled women think of themselves as political?

  • How did disabled women navigate and narrate their experiences of disabled womanhood?

  • How does the history of disabled women organising stand to disrupt and reshape existing narratives of liberation movements in twentieth century Britain?

Drawing extensively on print culture and oral history, my work will challenge the erasure of disabled women from both popular and academic narratives of activism and liberation movements. One of the most important contributions this research will make to the field of modern British history is helping to reconfigure the ways in which historians define "activism". I advocate a broader and more creative understanding of activist histories, with the crucial aim of challenging ableist expectations of activist cultures in the present day.

I am particularly interested in the histories of the following groups: Gemma, The Liberation Network of People With Disabilities, Sisters Against Disablement (SAD), Feminist Audio Books (FAB) and WinVisible. If you have experiences that would you like to share then please get in touch.

Research Interests

  • Disability history and disability studies
  • Women’s history and feminism
  • Histories of activism and liberation movements
  • Class, gender and sexuality in twentieth century Britain
  • Histories of the body

Methodological Approaches

  • Oral history
  • History of emotions

Academic Background

2018-2022 University of Warwick, PhD History

2017-2018 University of Warwick, MA Modern History

2013-2016 University of Oxford, BA History

Awards and Funding

  • Departmental scholarship for 3.5 years of doctoral research
  • Sir John H. Elliott Prize for highest mark in MA cohort

Conference Papers, Lectures and Seminars

Forthcoming

March 2021 ‘Disability and “Everyday Health” in Gemma Newsletters, 1978-2000’, paper presented as part of the Gender, Subjectivity, and “Everyday Health” in the Post-1945 World online seminar series, Body, Self and Family project, University of Essex

Previous

February 2020 'New Histories of Disability', seminar given to the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick

October 2019 'Disabled Women Organising, 1978-1996', guest lecture given to the 'Disability, Inequality and the Life Course' Sociology Undergraduate Module, University of Warwick

July 2019 ‘Apart or A Part?’ Understanding the Agency and Erasure of Disabled Women Within the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain, 1979-1993’, paper presented at the Modern British Studies Conference, University of Birmingham (nominated for best PGR/ECR paper 2019)

June 2018 Disabled Women, Sisterhood, and the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain, 1979-1993, paper presented at the Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference, University of Exeter

May 2018 Emotional Politics and the Women’s Social and Political Union, 1903-1917, paper presented at the Department of History Postgraduate Conference, University of Warwick

Publications

October 2020 'Disabled Women Organising: Feminism and Disability Rights Activism', article written for British Library website Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights

Other Positions

March 2020 - present books reviews assistant for the German History Journal

October 2019 - March 2020 assistant for the Centre for the History of Medicine Seminar Series

July 2019 - March 2020 co-convener for the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender Graduate Seminar Series

October 2018 - March 2020 assistant for the Warwick Feminist History Group

April - May 2019 chair of the organising committee for the Warwick Department of History Postgraduate Conference