Review of Burghardt, Madeline (2018), Broken: Institutions, Families, and the Construction of Intellectual Disability
Madeline Burghardt’s Broken: Institutions, Families, and the Construction of Intellectual Disability offers up intellectual disability as a malleable cultural construction that is eligible for reflection, specifically by survivors of some of Ontario’s most insidious institutions. Burghardt explains the ongoing process of institutionalization by tracking cultural milestones. From the rise of disability “experts” in a pre-WWII era to the 2010 class-action lawsuit launched against the provincial government, the research centres survivors’ interview-based testimony. Other voices emerge, too, including those of siblings and parents. All in all, Burghardt highlights 36 interviews from 20 different families and four institutional staffers. The book is a time capsule of life under a neglectful directive to institutionalize, which, decades later, pivoted into a directive to deinstitutionalize (157).