Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

Website for ESRC research project 'Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society'

Blackmarket for Knowledge and Non-Knowledge, Basel, Switzerland 6th June, 2015

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On Saturday 6th June, 2015, Dr Katherine Runswick-Cole, Senior Research Fellow in Disability Studies & Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University travelled to Basel, Switzerland to take part in the Blackmarket for Knowledge and Non-Knowledge event as part of the Wurld Wurchs Festival


The event in Basel is part of a series of Blackmarket events that have taken place all of the world At the Blackmarket around twenty ‘experts’ are invited to share their ideas with a member of the public. At the sound of the gong, ‘experts’ and members of the public begin their thirty- minute conversation across the table while the wider audience, of about one hundred members, tune in to their chose conversation on their headsets.


Each Blackmarket event follows a different theme, in Basel the conversations were broadly located in the area of the Para Human and many of the ‘experts’ (disabled people, family members, activist and academics) were talking about their ideas in relation to disability.


Katherine spoke about some of the ideas that she and colleagues have been developing at part of their ongoing project “Big Society? Disabled people with learning disabilities and civil society” ( She talked about what it means to be human by thinking the human alongside dis/ability; she explored the ways in which dis/ability can disrupt, re-shape and enlarge narrow concepts of ‘the human’ in radical ways.

Katherine said: “this was a fantastic opportunity to be part of an event which offers an innovative approach to knowledge exchange. Each conversation was different but each conversation offered a chance to think through the ideas we have been developing as part of the research.”


If you are interested in learning more about the ideas Katherine was talking about, you can read:

Goodley, D. and Runswick-Cole, K. (2014) Big Society? Disabled people with the label of learning disabilities and the queer(y)ing of civil society, Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research. DOI:10.1080/15017419.2014.941924

Goodley, D. and Runswick-Cole, K. (2014) Becoming dis/human: Thinking about the human through disability, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2014.930021

Or watch:



Author: Katherine RC

Katherine is Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology at the Research Institute for Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University

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