Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

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Representations and practices connected with disability in southern Benin

Sonia MRSIC-GARAC student laureate

°1979 Belgium
Licence in anthropology and sociology, University Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, 2004

Représentations et pratiques autour de ‘handicap’ au Sud-Bénin

People from the South who are disabled are, as a group, in permanent danger of exclusion and discrimination. Calling attention to their situation can only support those who are disabled themselves, their families, and those who fight for the rights of this group.
The way in which Ms Mrsic-Garac has carried out her fieldwork in Benin evinces a respect that in principle is expected of every researcher, however it is not given to everyone to go about this in the correct way. The consulting of the right person as a valid source of information, the meticulous and respectful reproduction of the discussions themselves and an understanding of the researcher’s position of power are elements that allow this work to achieve a high scientific and socially (i.e. developmentally) relevant standard.
Ms Mrsic-Garac’s work is relevant for researchers from the North because it contributes to the better grasp of the relative meaning of the phenomenon ‘handicap’. The context and period of the research and the sources of information on which she has drawn show that researchers and relief workers from the North must display the greatest ‘sensitivity’ if they seek to set up developmentally relevant projects in the South that lead to sustainable development.
It also appears from the work that the author has found the right balance between the ‘disabilities’ of people with a handicap on the one hand and their resilience on the other. This equilibrium provides the basis for the correct representation of the people in question.
Finally it should be said that this work contributes to the fundamental scientific research that is taking place within the new current of Disability Studies.

report by Prof. Dr. Geert Van Hove, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department of Orthopedagogy, Universiteit Gent, Belgium