disability technologies cultural imaginings

Project Overview

Start date: 1 January 2020
End date: 31 December 2024
Funder: Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award
Co-investigators: Stuart Murray, Professor Amelia DeFalco
External co-investigators: Dr Raymond Holt, Professor Tony Prescott, Dr Luna Dolezal, Dr Graham Pullin
Partners and collaborators: University of Sheffield, University of Exeter, University of Dundee


Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures is a multidisciplinary and multi-institution research project led by Professor Stuart Murray that investigates the relationship between cultural and artistic imaginings of disability technologies, such as prosthetics and other assistive technologies, and their design, production, and use in engineering and healthcare settings.

Collaborating Institutions and Disciplines

The project works with partners in Dundee (product design), Sheffield (robotics), Exeter (medical humanities and phenomenology), as well as mechanical engineering and service users in Leeds. The aim is to explore the boundaries and processes that constitute disability futures, examining how ideas of imagining, engineering, design, selfhood, embodiment, and care influence the production and meaning of disability, augmentation, and enhancement.

Key Research Questions

Researchers in this project are particularly interested in understanding the various narratives that represent augmented/enhanced futures framed within contemporary ideas. These include posthuman, transhuman, biohybrid, and robot concepts that might articulate disability experiences within the development of health technologies and cultures.

Unique Collaborative Approach

While previous scholarship has suggested a reciprocal connection between cultural imaginings of augmented selves, technological developments, and the use of these technologies in real-world settings, this project is the first to investigate these relationships through actual collaboration with researchers in engineering, robotics, design, and people with disabilities.

Bridging the Gap Between Disciplines

The connections between arts and humanities-based, product design, and engineering/robotics methodologies are hugely underexplored. However, they suggest points of productive comparison, such as models of empathy, the imagining of objects, conceptions and ethics of use and value, and notions of a transformed self. Imagining Technology for Disability Futures aims to contribute new knowledge to discussions of augmentation and supplementation in relation to understanding technologically-driven futures of disability experiences.

Preceding Projects and Funding

Component parts of the project have previously been funded by:

‘Engineering the Imagination’ was an invited project exhibit at the first British Academy Summer Showcase in June 2018.

By george