“The Liberation Torch (…) For Disabled People”: Rethinking Paul Hunt's Work

Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk


Paul Hunt was one of the most important activists and thinkers of disability politics in the middle of the 20th century. He was central to disabled people’s resistance to institutionalisation in the ‘60s, and to their self-organisation in Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) in the ‘70s. As a founder member of the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) – Britain’s first politically radical, pan-impairment DPO – Hunt was one of the first people to think seriously about what it means for disability to be caused by society, and how disabled people could organise to resist social oppression. His ideas inspired the Independent Living Movement, the Social Model, and Disability Studies.

Most of Hunt’s writings were out of print for decades following his tragically early death. As a result, contemporary scholars and activists have had to piece together his thought from a small handful of available texts – with his historical importance to the Disabled People’s Movement and political theory often overlooked. In this session, the editors of Hunt’s newly published Journal and Collected Works will present Hunt as a radical organiser and a serious political thinker: tying together his struggles for democracy in care homes and charity-led campaigns with his analysis of how and why society oppresses disabled people and his abiding love for human freedom. By offering this rounded, detailed interpretation of Hunt’s life and work, the speakers invite us to rethink what we think we know about disability politics at the birth of our movement.
Period25 May 2023
Held atUniversity of Leeds, United Kingdom


  • Disability Politics
  • Social Movement History
  • Paul Hunt
  • Disability Studies