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MEET THE NEW BOARD MEMBERS

In January two new people joined the DHA Board of Directors. Below they introduce themselves.

Lee Pennington, (Treasurer and Membership Coordinator)
Brandeis University, and soon US Naval Academy, Annapolis

It is a great pleasure to serve as DHA Treasurer and to work with the DHA Board to increase awareness about disability in history not only among DHA members but also within the wider scholarly community. My academic specialization is modern Japanese history and my interest in disability history grew out of my dissertation, "Wartorn Japan: Disabled Veterans and Society, 1931-1952," which I completed at Columbia University in October 2005. Prior to Columbia, I took a BA in Political Science from Davidson College and an MA in East Asian Studies at George Washington University. I spent two years in Japan as an English teacher before enrolling in the MA program at George Washington; since then, I lived in Yokohama for a year for language  study and spent two years at Waseda University in Tokyo as a visiting Fulbright scholar. I am currently the Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Japanese and Korean History at Brandeis University, and this fall will begin a tenure-track appointment in East Asian history at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. While at Brandeis I have taught courses on "Nation and Empire in Modern East Asia," "East Asia at War, 1931-1945," and "The Samurai," as well as a general survey course on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean history.

My dissertation and book manuscript, "Casualties of History: Japanese Disabled Veterans of the Second World War," constitute the first study of Japanese disabled veterans to appear in English-language scholarship. Spanning from the Second World War to the postwar American occupation of Japan and afterwards, my research explores the pivotal roles played by Japan's war-wounded men when it came to rallying national support for, first, Japan's war in the Asia- Pacific, and second, occupation-era reforms aimed at the democratization of postwar state and society. My research also examines how wartime programs for disabled veterans weathered the suddenly demilitarized social space of occupied Japan to influence the development of a postwar social welfare system. My work uses the neglected histories of disabled veterans—as well as those of the doctors, nurses, and families who cared for them—to analyze the workings of the modern state in times of crisis, arguing that the story of Japan’s war wounded has much to tell us about the conflicted origins of postwar societies no matter the national context.

Again, it is a pleasure to serve as DHA Treasurer. Please do not hesitate to contact me at lpenning@brandeis.edu at any time should you have questions regarding DHA membership or activities!

Phil Ferguson

Photograph: Phil Ferguson

E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor for the Education of Children with Disabilities at the University of Missouri St. Louis and soon Chapman University

For almost three decades I have pursued an array of interests in the general field of disability studies with a special focus on the history of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. I cut my academic teeth at Syracuse University, working on some of the deinstitutionalization battles in the early 80s with folks at the Center on Human Policy. While doing some of that work, I discovered a largely forgotten archive of case files, photos, newsletters and other material stored in a basement of a now closed institution in Rome, New York. That discovery and the dissertation that came out of it were the beginning of my interest in disability history. I found an early organizational home in the Society for Disability Studies and have continued to find both sustenance and challenge among the various tribes of scholars and advocates in that wonderfully messy field of study.

I am currently based in the College of Education at the University of Missouri St. Louis. However, next fall I will move to Chapman University in beautiful Orange County, California. They are starting a new doctoral program in disability studies there that is very exciting. I realize that my move may lead to a call for a quota on California-based Board members, but I promise to maintain my friendly, meat-and-potatoes, Midwest perspective at least through the end of the year.

In addition to various articles and chapters (mainly in special education journals and books), I have a book (long out of print) and an accompanying video on the history of both policy and practice for people with intellectual disabilities (Abandoned to Their Fate: Social Policy and Practice toward Severely Disabled Persons, 1820 – 1920). My current project is looking at the consolidation of specialized placements and supports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities in the early decades of the 20th century (what might be called a geography of clinical practice).

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