The post-institutional era: visions of history in research on intellectual disability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this article, I address how the history of intellectual disability politics is made sense of in social scientific research and popular discourse. In particular, I discuss the construction of a narrative break between a past of institutionalisation and the present policies of citizenship. By drawing on how postcolonial theorists criticise common ideas about decolonisation, I argue that this narrative impedes our appreciation of how power has transformed, rather than disappeared, after deinstitutionalisation. Instead, I propose ‘post-institutionalisation’ as a name for the present era of intellectual disability politics, suggesting that we need to attend to continuities and discontinuities of how the group is governed; how paternalism lives on after deinstitutionalisation and how the goals of citizenship inclusion give rise to new technologies of government. I conclude the article by discussing the necessity and the dangers of involving people with intellectual disabilities in the analysis of post-institutional government.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Administration Studies


  • deinstitutionalisation, disability studies, Intellectual disability, postcolonial theory, Spivak
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1332
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number9
Early online date2017 May 12
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 21
Publication categoryResearch