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'Deep-seated Abnormality': Military Psychiatry, Segregation, and Discourses of Black “Unfitness” in World War II

Aragon, Margarita. 2017. 'Deep-seated Abnormality': Military Psychiatry, Segregation, and Discourses of Black “Unfitness” in World War II. Men and Masculinities, ISSN 1097-184X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article examines the construction of “unfit” black masculinity in institutional and medical discourses of the American military during World War II. Examining the military medical literature on “maladjustment” in context of the armed forces practice of segregation, I argue that by ignoring the impact of segregation, military psychiatrists reproduced linkages between blackness and “defect.” Despite the absence of direct assertions of racial hierarchy, these discourses thus implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, construed black manhood as alternately feeble and menacing, but above all as “abnormal” in both mind and body. Examining articles from psychiatric and military medical journals, as well as the internal documents of military officials, I investigate these claims in regard to the conceptualization and management of “constitutional defects” and psychosomatic illness.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X17703156

Keywords:

medicine, race, war, United States, segregation, disability

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Dates:

DateEvent
26 May 2017Published
2017Accepted

Item ID:

23433

Date Deposited:

07 Jun 2018 11:11

Last Modified:

11 Jul 2018 07:32

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/23433

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