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Who Invented the Possum? What Historians Can Learn from Disabled Innovation in Britain's Responaut Communities

McGuire, Coreen

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Abstract

This article provides a new exploration of disabled innovation that transforms our understanding of collective contributions to the history of science and technology. It does so by showing how a user network galvanized individual inventions into disabled expertise by tracking the development of two technologies—the Selectascan/Possum and the adapted Loudspeaking Telephone. Hamraie and Fritsch's 2019 "Crip Technoscience Manifesto" defined "disabled expertise" by exploring how disabled technology modification has been devalued. This article takes up their manifesto's challenge to combine disability history with science and technology studies by analysing the technologies discussed in Responaut, a British quarterly magazine published between 1963 and 1989. Responauts were people who depended on respirators to breathe. This technological interdependence meant that users adapted an extraordinary variety of technologies to live well with respirators and modify their personal environment.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 29, 2024
Publication Date 2024-01
Deposit Date Mar 18, 2024
Publicly Available Date Mar 19, 2024
Journal Technology and Culture
Print ISSN 1097-3729
Publisher Johns Hopkins University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 65
Issue 1
Pages 89-116
DOI https://doi.org/10.1353/tech.2024.a920517
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2330905

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