Mad Studies is about far more than the Byzantine world of psychiatry and its allied disciplines. The stakes are higher still, for to study madness is to probe the very foundations of our claims to being human. For this reason alone – and there are many more – “Mad” matters to us all. (LeFrançois, Menzies & Reaume, 2013, p. 21)
Lancaster University’s Centre for Disability Research hosts an internationally renowned bi-annual Disability Studies Conference. In 2014, we – Peter Beresford (Brunel University) and Brigit McWade (Lancaster University) – are convening the first Mad Studies stream for the conference.
With the publication of Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies (edited by Brenda A. LeFrançois, Robert Menzies and Geoffrey Reaume) in 2013, Mad Studies are now gaining a higher profile internationally (Peter talks about Mad Matters at the Radical Book Fair, Edinburgh). We see this as a critical moment in which activists, academics, service-users, practitioners and services can come together and address integral issues in the field of madness and disability. At a time when the global north’s mental health systems are in crisis, we need to develop and strengthen ‘democratic and feasible alternatives to support our understandings of and responses to madness and distress’ (Beresford in Menzies, LeFrançois, Reaume, 2013, p. ix).
We are thrilled to include papers from Canadian scholars directly involved in the publication of Mad Matters, alongside activists and academics working in the field of madness and disability in the UK and USA. The stream encapsulates the diversity of Mad Studies, with presentations on a wide diversity of topics from identity politics, collective action, representation, stigma, austerity, conceptual, theoretical and ethical concerns, and mental health legislation, policy, and practice.
We hope that this stream will offer opportunities for discussion, connection, and debate, as well as the possibility of some collective work in the future. To begin with we have created a this wordpress site where people can access the details of the stream, see the schedule and begin to add to a shared bibliography/resources list.
If you would like to add to the site please email us: madstudies2014 ‘at’ gmail.com
You can also link to us on Twitter by using the following two hashtags: #cedr14 #madstudies and following the Centre for Disability Research: @CeDRLancs