How do people with different forms of disabilities live the everyday? How do you dress, undress, cut your food or shake people’s hands when you have rheumatoid arthritis? How do you figure out where to get on or off the bus or pay for something at the cash when you are blind? How do you move about when your balance is affected by a painful illness? What possibilities emerge for living, sensing, thinking, and performing the everyday differently when disability enters the stage? These are the questions that drive my research and ethnographic curiosities.
An objective of my research sought to understand whether a concept of ‘mental health’ exists amongst the TCiE (in contrast to the Western definition of mental health that has been developed by UN/WHO). Interestingly, the UN definition appeared incomplete to respondents as it fails to address ethics.
Some results from my research in Ethiopia are now available, ahead of publication in African Studies Review. The paper, co-authored with Lucie Buffavand, is a product of several years work in the lower Omo valley, where a massive hydroelectric dam and sugar plantations are reshaping the landscape and people’s opportunities to live within it. We investigated the experience of people subjected to a campaign of ‘villagization’ – resettlement associated with the establishment of plantations on lands previously used for farming, herding, and foraging.