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Katherine Elizabeth Sorrels, PhD
University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH 45220-2872)
Disability, Jewishness, and Belonging: A History of the Camphill Special School Movement in Postwar Britain and America

Research for a book on the history of the Camphill Special Schools movement and its role in the international disability rights movement, including a digital, open-access social network analysis of its founder’s body of work.

My proposal is for a book manuscript and open-access digital project that address the NEH area of interest, Protecting our Cultural Heritage. I trace Jewish pediatricians and disabled children who fled Nazi Vienna for northern Scotland, where they founded an intentional community called Camphill Special School. Camphill soon grew into an international movement for disabled children and adults. Today, there are over 130 Camphill Villages around the world. Camphill’s success is due in part to the way its founders subverted medical norms in disability care: people with disabilities live with their caretakers in family-style households that stress communal learning, work and social life. I argue that Camphill conceived of a new idea of home, one that met a pressing need that neither individual households nor state institutions could meet. Based on oral history interviews and extensive archival research, I reconstruct and contextualize the moment’s history and culture.

Project fields:
European History; Jewish Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/15/2020 – 7/15/2020