The Politics of Wounds explores military patients' experiences of frontline medical evacuation, war surgery, and the social world of military hospitals during the First World War. The proximity of the front and the colossal numbers of wounded created greater public awareness of the impact of the war than had been seen in previous conflicts, with serious political consequences. Frequently referred to as 'our wounded', the central place of the soldier in society, as a symbol of the war's shifting meaning, drew contradictory responses of compassion, heroism, and censure. Wounds also stirred romantic and sexual responses. This volume reveals the paradoxical situation of the increasing political demand levied on citizen soldiers concurrent with the rise in medical humanitarianism and war-related charitable voluntarism. The physical gestures and poignant sounds of the suffering men reached across the classes, giving rise to convictions about patient rights, which at times conflicted with the military's pragmatism. Why, then, did patients represent military medicine, doctors and nurses in a negative light? The Politics of Wounds listens to the voices of wounded soldiers, placing their personal experience of pain within the social, cultural, and political contexts of military medical institutions. The author reveals how the wounded and disabled found culturally creative ways to express their pain, negotiate power relations, manage systemic tensions, and enact forms of 'soft resistance' against the societal and military expectations of masculinity when confronted by men in pain. The volume concludes by considering the way the state ascribed social and ecomic values on the body parts of disabled soldiers though the pension system.
Ana Carden-Coyne is Co-Director of the Centre for the Cultural History of War, University of Manchester, and co-founder, Disability History Group, UK/Europe. Her publications include Reconstructing the Body: Classicism, Modernism and the First World War (2009), Gender and Conflict Since 1914: Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (ed., 2012); Cultures of the Abdomen: A History of Diet, Digestion and Fat in the Modern World (ed. with C.E. Forth, 2005), and a special edition on disability, European Review of History, (ed. with J. Anderson, 2007), among other works. She is curator of the WW1 centenary art exhibition, The Sensory War, 1914-2014, with Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery.