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“ Not a Vacation, But a Hardening Process” : The Self-Empowerment Work of Therapeutic Craft in Nova Scotia [Elektronisk resurs]

2014-10-01T02:00:00+02:00
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  • This article will examine the development of a state-sponsored therapeutic craft regime in Nova Scotia in the early to mid-twentieth century. Built on the notion that postwar residents needed “work therapy – not a vacation, but a hardening process” (Black n.d. a: 3) – therapeutic craft emerged in Nova Scotia through a complex combination of the individualization of work habits, the desire to construct an antimodern regional identity around handwork, and the notion that both infirm patients and the province as a whole could be healed from economic stagnation through craft. Key to the success of Nova Scotia’s therapeutic craft regime was occupational therapist Mary E. Black’s career as director of the provincial government’s Handicrafts and Home Industries Division from 1943 to 1955. Black’ s healthcare training led her to seek out therapeutic possibilities in everyday work activities, not to mention a therapeutic solution to what she called “the atti-tude of most Nova Scotians…[:] defeatism” (Black 1949: 46). Her ability to turn seemingly disparate things – such as Scandinavian design, the ordered work of occupational rehabilitation, and a phenomenological focus on what she called “ in-dividualistic existence” (Black n.d. b: 2) – into a unified therapeutic solution demonstrates that the contemporary rise of therapeutic culture under the increased individualism of the neoliberal era has an established historical root in the postwar period that remains important to understand. 

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