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UEA professor elected to prestigious British Academy fellowship

Two men talking, one in a wheelchair

Tom Shakespeare, Prof of Disability Research at Norwich Medical School, the University of East Anglia (UEA), has been made a Fellow of the British Academy in recognition of his work in the field of disability studies.

He’s one of just 76 outstanding scholars elected from universities worldwide to join the community of more than 1,400 leading academics making up the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences.

Current Fellows include the classicist Dame Mary Beard, historian Sir Simon Schama and philosopher Baroness Onora O’Neill, while previous Fellows include Sir Winston Churchill, CS Lewis, Seamus Heaney and Beatrice Webb.

“I am very grateful to the British Academy for extending to me this huge honour,” said Tom. “I have always tried to enable the diverse voices of disabled people to be heard through my qualitative research, and this will only spur me to try to do better research in future.”Prof Tom Shakespeare

Tom is well known for his work to communicate academic findings to wider audiences, such as through his broadcasts on BBC Radio 4.

His main interests are in disability studies, medical sociology and the social and ethical aspects of genetics. He has a long involvement with the disabled people’s movement in the UK and internationally and was a member of Arts Council England from 2003-8. During his five years at the World Health Organisation, he helped produce and launch key reports, including the World Report on Disability (WHO 2011) and International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury (WHO 2013). 

Tom has conducted research with disabled children, people with restricted growth, disabled people in Africa, people living with mental illness and about disabled people’s sexual and romantic relationships. He has written or edited more than a dozen books, including “Disability Rights and Wrongs” (2006) and “The Sexual Politics of Disability” (1996).

“The election of the largest cohort of Fellows in our history means the British Academy is better placed than ever to help tackle the challenges we all face today,” said Prof Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy. “Whether it’s social integration or the ageing society, the future of democracy or climate change, Brexit or the rise of artificial intelligence, the insights of the humanities and social sciences are essential as we navigate our way through an uncertain present into what we hope will be an exciting future.”