Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon

Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon (she/her) is a first-year PhD student in History at the University of British Columbia. She holds an MA in European and Russian Affairs from the University of Toronto, a BA (Hons) from the University of British Columbia, and a bachelor’s from Sciences Po Paris. Isabelle’s doctoral research examines ideas and experiences of disability in Bosnia and Serbia at the turn of the twentieth century. As such, her work engages with a wide range of subdisciplines, including disability history, legal history, labour history, history of the body, history of medicine, and history of everyday life. In addition to her historical research, Isabelle is interested in Canadian disability policy, global disability studies, and current affairs in the Balkans. Isabelle is the research assistant for the PROUD Project, an organization which supports the social inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canada through research, advocacy, and programming, with a particular focus on employment.

Project Description:

Isabelle’s project is titled “’Unfit for the Army… Unfit for Life’: Militarism and Disability in Serbia, 1878-1912.” It argues that, in the decades between Serbian independence in 1878 and the First Balkan War in 1912, the category of “unfit for military service” overlapped with the modern concept of “disability” along three fundamental axes – categorization, medicalization, and marginalization. Overall, this project demonstrates that, absent significant industrialization, military modernization served as both impetus and mechanism for the creation of a modern category of disability in prewar Serbia. These findings challenge the widespread, if increasingly disputed, assumption that industrial capitalism is a precondition for modern conceptions of disability.