Sarah Troke

Sarah Troke


I first came to the University of Leeds in 2011 for my undergraduate degree in Politics. Once I completed this course I decided to continue my studies with a Masters in Disability Studies which I completed in 2018. As a disabled woman with multiple impairments, undertaking this course was not only academically stimulating but personally revolutionary. During this time I connected with other disabled scholars, activists and allies within the school and the Centre for Disability Studies. This environment encouraged me to develop my research ideas around genealogy and epilepsy and gave me the confidence to apply to do a PhD. In 2018 I received ESRC 1+3 funding to undertake my PhD (part-time) at the University of Leeds, as part of this I completed my MA Social Research (interdisciplinary) and began my PhD studies in 2020. 

Epilepsy is one of the oldest documented diseases, throughout human existence they have been understood and conceptualised in different ways. My PhD research will be using archival materials to explore the historical development of epilepsy as a diagnostic and impairment category and the social, economic and moral contexts that may have shaped its creation. It will use Foucauldian theory and the method of genealogy alongside disability studies to critically consider the ways that epilepsy has been conceptualised and how this has changed and become animated over time in different contexts. By doing this, it will hopefully offer a more nuanced and enriched understanding of impairments, which destabilises our present perception of diagnoses as wholly biologically determined. Conducting this form of analysis can enrich our understanding of disabling oppression as something that operates in minute and hidden ways often considered ‘natural’.

Research interests

My research interests include: 

  • Disability studies
  • Epilepsy and Non-epileptic Seizures
  • Impairment and diagnostic categories
  • Social theory and the work of Michel Foucault particularly his genealogical work
  • Developing the method of genealogy – utilising the method to produce genealogies of particular impairment categories in disability studies


  • BA Politics (First Class)
  • MA Disability Studies (Distinction)
  • MA Social Research (Distinction)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Disability Studies