The second Mad Studies stream

Lancaster Disability Studies conference: 6th-8th September, 2016

This conference brings together researchers, practitioners, policy makers and activists from around the world, to share and debate research, ideas and developments in disability studies.

2016 will see the second Mad Studies stream convened by Peter Beresford and Brigit McWade.

Since 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 has been gaining a higher profile internationally. In 2014, we convened the first Mad Studies stream at Lancaster Disability Studies Conference which brought both established figures in the field and those who wanted to know more together. As a result of this event, an International Mad Studies Network was established and has continued to develop and accrue members ever since.

During the last two years, there have been several events exploring what Mad Studies means, what it might entail in practice in the UK, and what it might offer us in terms of critical scholarship and activism in the field of madness and disability. We hope that this stream will offer further opportunities for discussion, connection, and debate, as well as the possibility of continued collective work.

We welcome presentations on any topic. However, for example, presentations might address the following themes/issues:

  • Making/doing Mad Studies
  • Mad Studies in relation to Disability Studies
  • Mad Studies, identity politics and intersectionality
  • Madness and distress in a global age
  • The politics of diagnoses and treatments
  • Neoliberalism, austerity and welfare reform
  • Criminalisation, policing and forensic services
  • Violence, hate-crime and death
  • Social policy and legislation
  • Human rights and social justice
  • Activism, alliances, dissent
  • Mad people’s history
  • Mad media, culture, arts, and language

We’re particularly interested in taking the conversation in the direction of more difficult topics such as (but not limited to) questions concerning who gets to claim ‘mad’ as an identity; prejudice and discrimination within mad communities (racism, sexism, disablism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, and more); contemporary issues such as welfare reform and “psychocompulsion”; forms of violence experienced by mad people including but also beyond psychiatric coercion; global differences in access to and refusal of treatment; madness, distress and war/migration; law and criminal justice; madness and spirituality, madness and science beyond the medical model.

Traditional academic presentations should be 20 minutes long, please get in touch with Brigit (b.mcwade ‘at’ if you have ideas for a different kind of contribution (such as a film screening, for example). Visit the conference website for details on how to submit your abstract:

Deadline for abstract submissions: 31st March 2016

This year, we are delighted to announce that we will have two Mad Studies keynote lectures, one as part of the main conference (Jijian Voronka) and the other embedded in the stream’s programme (Lucy Costa):

Keynote: Jijian Voronka: Mapping Mad Studies in movements, knowledge, and praxis. 

Jijian Voronka received her PhD in Social Justice Education at the University of Toronto (2015). Her research explores the possibilities, limits, and self/management of service user participation in mental health and homeless research and service systems. She is currently working on her book Troubling Inclusion: The politics of participation in neoliberal biopolitical interventions. She holds a SSHRC post-doctoral research fellowship at Rutgers University’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and teaches at Ryerson University’s School of Disability Studies.

Keynote: Lucy Costa: Madness and the Politics of Violence

Lucy Costa works as a systemic advocate in Toronto with the Empowerment Council promoting the rights of mental health clients as well as encouraging critical analysis about service user inclusion in the broad mental health sector. She sits on a number of advisories and has been involved in disability politics for over fifteen years. As a member of the Psychiatric Disabilities against Violence Coalition (PDAC) she has helped produce a report on the violent victimisation of people with mental health issues, entitled Clearing a Path: A Psychiatric Survivor Anti-Violence Framework. She is a blog commentator for Mad in Americaand is co-editor of the anthology tentatively titled, Madness, Violence and Power due out Autumn 2016.


Bursaries: There will be a number of bursaries (a discount of £150 against the concessionary delegate fee) available to delegates with limited access to funding. Priority will be given to delegates who have not previously attended the conference. Please contact Hannah Morgan (h.morgan ‘at’ for more information. All applications for bursaries must be received by May 31st 2016.

We are also delighted to announce that PCCS Books ( have kindly sponsored two places specifically for the Mad Studies stream. In addition, we have succesfully raised enough money to cover an additional three places through a justgiving campaign. We are extremely grateful to both PCCS and all our donors for making this possible.

The sponsored places offer payment of the fee, plus two nights B&B on Lancaster campus (Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th) and two evening meals. Recipients of these bursaries will need to cover their own travel. But hopefully, booking in advance may make this affordable.

These bursaries are for delegates who intend to attend the Mad Studies stream in full. They are reserved for people who would not be able to attend without this financial assistance. They are not for people who have institutional funding but have already spent it attending other events, nor are they for people in receipt of a secure and liveable wage.

To apply for a bursary, please email Brigit McWade (b.mcwade’at’ by 31st March detailing 1) why the bursary is needed and 2) why you want to attend/what you would gain from the conference. In respect for your privacy and dignity I don’t expect you to give me your full financial history or details, please just confirm you have no funding and/or secure income that could be used to help you attend. All information will be treated confidentially.

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