Popularly known as “The War to End All Wars,” the First World War was also the war to end all disability. Determined to curtail the human and economic costs of military conflict, the United States and many other belligerent nations instituted programs of physical and vocational rehabilitation in order to make injured men whole again, so that they could fit back seamlessly into civilian society. This talk will trace the practice and ethic of the rehabilitative model of veteran care, with an eye toward showing how it later became commodified as part of America’s ongoing commitment to pursuing a militaristic foreign policy.
About the Speaker
Beth Linker is an Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of the History and Sociology of Science, where she is also Graduate Chair. She received her PhD from Yale and worked as a clinician before her doctoral training in history. Her research and teaching interests include the cultural and social history of modern medicine and science, specifically in critical disability studies, gender, body techniques, and surgery as a techno-curative practice. She is the author of two books, War’s Waste (Chicago, 2011) and Civil Disabilities (Penn Press, 2014). Her award-winning scholarship has also appeared in The Boston Globe, The Huffington Post, The Bulletin of the History of Medicine, and The American Journal of Public Health. Her future book projects include Slouch: The Rise and Fall of American Posture Sciences and Making the Cut: Surplus Surgery in America.