Disability in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. History, policy and everyday life
There are over thirty million disabled people in Russia and Eastern Europe, yet their voices are rarely heard in scholarly studies of life and well-being in the region. This book brings together new research by internationally recognised local and non-native scholars in a range of countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It covers, historically, the origins of legacies that continue to affect well-being and policy in the region today, discusses disability in culture and society, highlighting the broader conditions that construct disability and in which disabled people must build their identities and well-being, provides in-depth biographical profiles that outline what living with disabilities in the region is like, and examines policy interventions, including international influences, recent reforms and the difficulties of implementing inclusive, community-based care. The book will be of interest both to regional specialists, for whom the problem of declining standards of health and well-being is a crucial concern, and to scholars of disability and social policy internationally
Cinematic representations not only strongly influence our interpretation of history (Ferro 1992: 315), but are also important for understanding key aspects of Soviet disability policy. At the beginning of the twentieth century the new medium of cinema enjoyed immense popularity in many countries due to the efforts of commercial filmmakers to produce popular entertainment in the genres of melodrama, comedies and adventure stories. After the October Revolution in Russia, however, cinema was mainly used for education and propaganda (Lawton 1992: 2). Visual arts not only represented, but also contributed to, political discourses in Soviet society by using old and new imaginaries for classifying citizens. This chapter explores the ‘iconography’ of disability in Soviet film in order to reveal the shifting and contested meanings associated with the visual representation of disabled bodies
The topic of disability in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union commonly evokes a range of depressing images from abandoned children in dilapidated orphanages to military veterans in uniform begging on street corners. More positive associations are far less frequent, whether disability activism, inclusive kindergartens or disability-themed film festivals. The ‘micro worlds’ of disabled people – their home lives, daily routines, family and friends – are similarly unknown to both scholars and large parts of society in the region. This collection of recent research explores how disabled people in postsocialist countries live in a context of weak safety nets, unstable polities and ambivalent civil society development that make it difficult to overcome historical legacies of control, segregation and stigma. Studying disabled people’s lives provides insights into the contested conceptions of citizenship, health, diversity and well-being that circulate in policy circles and society in an area of the world that has undergone significant transformation in the past twenty years.