Keynote speakers

The keynote speakers are listed below in the order they appear in the program.

Julia Kristeva was born in Bulgaria in 1942. At the age of 23, she moved to Paris and has lived there ever since. Her original interests were in language and linguistics, and she was influenced by her contemporaries Lucian Goldmann and Roland Barthes. She also studied Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, and like her mentors, she began to work both as an analyst and an academic. Her research in linguistics, includes her doctoral thesis La Revolution du langage poetique in 1974. The latter publication led to her accepting of chair of linguistics at the University of Paris, and a series of guest appointments at Columbia University in New York.

Kristeva's unique background, a "foreign" woman working in the predominantly male intellectual circles of France, drives the strategies of her work in semiotics and her interest in the politics of marginality. In accordance with her thinking, she produces both fictional and academic texts. Her interest is in discourses that resist rigid and one-dimensional logic and instead engage in an on-going process of writing the struggle with the impasse of language. She prefers to analyse, to think language against itself, by its fracturing and multiplication of texts, while taking the figure of negativity into account.

In 2003 Kristeva publishes a Letter to the French President where the question of otherness and disability is not only presented as a community matter, but a personal matter that concerns every one. Here she suggest that there is a kinship between us and the other - those who are different, those that we keep at a distance - that is deeper than linguistic dichotomies and conventions. And she asks: How can we realize that what is different is not the exception but the general rule?

Her entry into the field of disability has been welcomed and considered controversial – at the same time. In 2004, Julia Kristeva was the recipient of the first Holberg International Memorial Prize.

JULIA_KRISTEVA_Opale-photo-John-Foley2Photo: John Foley

Halvor Hanisch holds a MA in comparative literature, as well as a  degree in sociology. The title of his PhD dissertation was: "Tangles in the Weave of Disability. On the structurality of disabling structures". He now holds a position as a postdoctoral research fellow at Oslo University Hospital. He is a managing editor of the Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research,  and pesident of the Norwegian Network on Disability Research.     Hanisch

Carol Thomas is a Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University, UK, based in the Faculty of Health and Medicine. She is best known for her publications in Disability Studies - including her books Female Forms: experiencing and understanding disability (1997, Open University Press) and Sociologies of Disability and Illness. Contested Ideas in Disability Studies and Medical Sociology (2007, Palgrave Macmillan). She has also researched and published widely on 'patients' and 'carers' experiences of living with cancer, and has developed an interest in illness narratives. Publications on narrative analysis have followed – notably in debate context in Sociology of Health and Illness, 32 (4). Carol is currently Director of the Centre for Disability Research (CeDR) at Lancaster University.


Stuart Blume is a professor at the University of Amsterdam and Chairman of the Department of Science Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam. His principal research interests are the development and introduction of new health care technologies. In 2009 he was appointed as expert advisor on bioethics to the World Federation of the Deaf. In 2009-12 he was Professor 2 at the Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Oslo and in 2013 he was a visiting Professor at the Swedish Institute for  Disability Research, Örebro University. Lately he has also been visiting the University of Cuenca, Ecuador as a Prometeo fellow. He is best known for his publications on health care technologies, such as The Artificial Ear: Cochlear Implants and the Culture of Deafness, together with Dale Rosen he has written Citizens as users of technology: an exploratory study of vaccines and vaccination in N.J. Oudshoorn and T. Pinch (eds): How users matters: the Co-construction of Users and Technologies) and Protecting the World’s Children: Immunication Policies and Practises (together with S. Roalkvam, D. McNeill).

Stuart Blume
Patrick Kermit is professor of Disability Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, based in the Department of Social Work and Health Science. Kermit's research interests center around Deafness and bioethics. He has published several papers discussing ethical aspects related to cochlear implantation of pre-lingual deaf children, as well as ethical challenges related to prenatal diagnosis and Deafness. During resent years, he has also taken part in a studies focusing on legal safety for Deaf people facing the Norwegian criminal justice system. PatrickKermit2

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