The Weight of Life at Walter Reed
Duke University Press 2015
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in MedicineNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network January 29, 2018 Dana Greenfield
Zoe Wool‘s ethnography of rehabilitation After War: The Weight of Life at Walter Reed (Duke University Press, 2015) describes how soldiers injured in the war on terror are pulled towards a normal and idealized American life (Duke University Press, 2015). She describes how the iconic military hospital orients its patients (mostly men) towards normative masculine domestic ideals in an attempt to assimilate them to ordinary life. By closely following their lives in and out of rehabilitation (clinical and domestic), Wool shows us how impossible and fraught this “ordinary” is as the men subvert and are caught between multiple desires and realities: to be home, whole, ordinary fathers and husbands, heroes and symbols of exceptionalism. The weight of life is carried by these soldiers and veterans who are asked to do so much cultural work in the service of their nation on and off the battlefield.
Zoe Wool is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Rice University, where her teaching and research includes queer theory, personhood and the body, critical disability studies, science and technology studies, and violence and care.
Dana Greenfield, PhD is a medical anthropologist and an MD candidate at the University of California, San Francisco. Next year, she will begin a residency in pediatrics. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @DanaGfield.