Karen Soldatić

Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences & Institute Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University


TOPIC: Global Development, Sustainability and Digitisation: Disability Imaginaries in the Global South

DATE: 12th November 2020, Thursday
TIME: 2:00 PM to 3:30PM


Over the last ten years, disability inequality and exclusion within the Global South has gained increased attention from researchers, practitioners and policy makers, particularly since the release of the World Report on Disability (WHO 2011). Given this global attention, it should not be surprising that disability in the global south has emerged as a core area of international development. Core global development frameworks, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, explicitly identify and articulate disabled people as central to any development initiative.  Global donor bodies, such as the World Bank, are propelling local states to be inclusive of, and responsive to, disability in localised state resource mobilisation and economic development. This presentation will seek to historically situate the critical role of disabled people and their strategies of activism and advocacy in changing international global policy frameworks. It will then move to examine the critical role of digitisation and automation within the global economy and the localised impacts this will have on disabled people’s livelihoods and wellbeing within the Global South.


Karen Soldatic is Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences & Institute Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. She was awarded a Fogarty Foundation Excellence in Education Fellowship for 2006–2009, a British Academy International Fellowship in 2012, a fellowship at The Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University (2011–2012), where she remains an Adjunct Fellow, and an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship (2016–2019). She obtained her PhD (Distinction) in 2010 from the University of Western Australia. Her research on Disability in Global South builds on her 20 years of experience as an international (Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia) senior policy analyst, researcher and practitioner. She is a founding international editor for the multi-lingual journal Disability & the Global South and has published extensively in the area including co-leading a number of key international anthologies (Disability & The Global South: The Critical Handbook, 2016; Disability & Colonialism, 2016; The Global Politics of Impairment and Disability: Processes and Embodiments, 2014). Karen’s forthcoming book with Dinesha Samararatne is the outcome of a 10-year project in partnership with women with disabilities from across the former conflict zones of Sri Lanka:  Women with Disabilities as Agents of Peace, Change and Rights (Routledge, 2021).


Karen is Istro-Romanian, the smallest ethnolinguistic minority group in Europe, formally recognised by UNESCO as under severe socio-cultural and ethnolinguistic threat on the verge of disappearance. Karen’s research on Australian society and settler colonialism is shaped by her lived experience of being the child of immigrants : her father, an illegal immigrant upon his arrival and her mother, removed from her family under Australia’s child removal policies of the time ( This combined personal experience informs her socio-political understandings of disability, marginality and intersectionality.