The conference was held on 06-07 October 2022, Sofia
The event, which was organized by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology within the MILIEU project, took place at “Entract 127” – one of the most vibrant coworking spaces in the Bulgarian capital. Our topic brought together over fifty researchers at different stages of their career development, whose expert knowledge in their respective areas of competence shed light on two important issues pertaining to the current state of society: inequality and violence.
The nature of human violence is complex and there are still many questions that we have yet to address regarding its biological or social origins, but disability theory and feminist studies have already shown that certain groups of people are twice as likely to be subjected to acts of physical, psychological and social aggression. Women and persons with disabilities are at severe risk of becoming victims to systemic and continuous violence, due to their relatively lower socioeconomic status and relatively higher financial or physical dependence on their partners or caretakers. An even more vulnerable subset of both these groups are disabled women, whose experiences of violence are shaped by their experiences of disability and exacerbated by negative social perceptions or attitudes such as dehumanization, objectification, stigma and pathologization, especially in cases of lawful medical violence. In addition, gender-based violence already bears considerable correlations to issues like lack of legal and social protection, mental illness, medical conditions, and substance abuse, thereby further decreasing the victim’s ability to lead an independent, healthy life. Last, but not least, women and persons with disability are very likely to experience instances of disrespect at home, at the workplace or during social situations, which may harm their dignity and leave them feeling violated in a profound way. It is important to foster rigorous, culturally sensitive academic research which explores the links between these phenomena, explains the social mechanisms operating behind them, and proposes effective strategies for intervention and prevention.
That is why MILIEU and IPS-BAS are happy to have contributed to the current academic discourse on gender, disability and violence by organizing a conference where these topics were approached from multiple different academic and/or professional perspectives in a semi-formal hybrid environment. The goal of our two-day interdisciplinary event was to bring together researchers from various academic backgrounds in the social sciences and humanities in order to discuss gender, disability and violence, as well as the areas and ways in which these factors overlap, intersect, or interact. As part of our effort to encourage participation from PhD students and early career researchers (ECR) working on these topics, on the second day of the event we also hosted a special workshop for young academics.