[PAST EVENT] Disability Justice and Community Archaeology at a 20th Century Eugenic Institution in Western Mass.

April 10, 2024
12pm - 1pm
Washington Hall, Room 101
241 Jamestown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Access & Features
  • Open to the public
Dr. Laura Ellen Heath-Stout

W&M Anthropology Presents Guest Lecturer:
Dr. Laura Ellen Heath-Stout
Stanford Archaeology Center
Brown Bag Series 

Wednesday, April 10, 12-1pm presented via Zoom

“Disability Justice and Community Archaeology at a 20th Century Eugenic Institution in Western Massachusetts.”

"Nothing about us without us" has been a key rallying cry of the disability rights movement for decades, yet archaeologists regularly interpret past disabled people's lives while excluding modern disabled people from archaeology careers. In my upcoming project, I seek to address both the epistemic limitations of an archaeology of disability done by nondisabled people and the injustices of systemic ableism in archaeology as a discipline. In collaboration with disabled activists in Massachusetts, I will be investigating the history of the Belchertown State School, where people with intellectual disabilities and others were institutionalized from 1922–1992, and contributing to the Belchertown community's and Massachusetts's state-wide reckonings with the histories of eugenics and abuse. In this talk, I will present the foundations of this new project and invite discussion of how to create a truly disability-justice-oriented archaeology project that contributes to both disability activism and archaeological knowledge production in meaningful ways.

Laura Heath-Stout (she/her) is a postdoctoral scholar at the Stanford Archaeology Center, a member of the leadership team of the Disabled Archaeologists Network, and a settler on Muwekma Ohlone and Ramaytush Ohlone land. Since 2016, she has used qualitative and quantitative methods to study the ways intersecting systems of oppression shape the demographics, experiences, and knowledge production practices of academic archaeologists. This work has been published in American Antiquity, the International Journal of Historical Archaeology, and the Journal of Field Archaeology, among others, and her book is forthcoming from Routledge later this year. She enjoys reading feminist science fiction, cooking, hiking, and spending time with her two-year-old.

Sponsored by: Anthropology


Richard Williams, [[rawilliams01]]