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Pride and Privilege?: New Approaches to War Disability in the Twentieth Century

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>14/07/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>History
Number of pages10
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date14/07/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

War disability occupies a prominent space within the small but rapidly blossoming field of disability history. The experience of maiming in war can contribute to a specific form of identity construction amongst disabled veterans, who have often been viewed separately from other disability groups. For wounded men returning home from war, it was often psychologically of the utmost importance to be proud of their service to their homeland, or in the case of civil wars, of fighting for a political conviction. Lifelong physical impairment could even intensify this feeling, as the act of self-sacrifice, perceived as heroic, was inscribed on one's body as a permanent mark, a ‘badge of honour’. Often, a sense of pride amongst disabled veterans has corresponded with the privilege of having a powerful political lobby, sometimes resulting in welfare measures tailored to the needs of disabled veterans. The contributions to this issue seek to explore the complex social positioning of those who – often coming to terms with their own private struggles with rehabilitation and feelings of emasculation – may not have felt privileged, while simultaneously occupying a clearly favourable position in comparison to other disability groups. Thus, through the framing of ‘pride’ and ‘privilege’, the contributions to this ‘History in Focus’ feature will aim to re-evaluate the marginalising or stigmatising nature of war disability, and to explore the complex and multifaceted positioning of disabled veterans in a world where no individual is limited to the rigid confines of a single identity and social space.