The spatial and the historical dimensions of disability have both been poorly documented and analysed in Western social sciences. The spatial social sciences — geography, urban planning and architecture — have either largely ignored or trivialised the issue of disability. The discipline of history has also paid scant attention to the question of disability. This paper contributes to the historical-geographical understanding of disability by exploring the spatial context of physical impairment in nineteenth-century Melbourne. The paper has two specific objectives (i) to ‘locate'disabled people in nineteenth-century Melbourne by showing where and how they lived; and (ii) to illustrate the socio-spatial relations that shaped their lives. The analysis focuses on three key sites of everyday life for disabled people: home, workplace and institution. It is argued that the sociospatial relations which cohered around and between these pivotal locations played an important role in shaping the everyday life patterns ofdisabled people.
Urban Research Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University 1998