«One Difference Is Enough»: Towards a History of Disability in Belgian Congo (1908-1960)

Evelyne Verhaegen, Pieter Verstraete, Marc Depaepe

Abstract


This article aims to investigate the educational initiatives provided for Congolese people with disabilities during the Belgian colonization, 1908-1960. We found out disability strongly influenced the foundation of the Belgian colony and that it can be assumed that a significant number of Congolese in the Belgian colony were disabled. Yet no historical research about this subject can be found. The subject seemed to be hardly neglected and overlooked. It is this particular contradiction or silence in historiography that this article wants to elucidate. For this purpose, various and sometimes conflicting sources have been consulted. In addition to basic literature on the Belgian colonization and more specific literature on disability in relation to culture, various archives, such as audiovisual material and oral witnesses of this particular period have been included in this research. Our main finding is that in most of the colonial period little or no educational initiatives were provided for Congolese people with disabilities. This we explain by the very limited differentiation which was made between the Congolese themselves. We argue that the black man as such was considered as a rather alien figure and consequently the additional factor of disability remained hardly unnoticed. In the last years of the colonization an increased amount of educational initiatives emerged, which this article explains by the probable increased differentiation between blacks towards the end of the colonization.

How to reference this article

Verhaegen, E., Verstraete, P., & Depaepe, M. (2016). «One Difference Is Enough»: Hacia una historia de la discapacidad en el Congo Belga (1908-1960). Espacio, Tiempo y Educación, 3(1), 407-420. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.14516/ete.2016.003.001.19

 

Keywords


disability; colonization; silence; Belgian Congo; education

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14516/ete.2016.003.001.19

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