337 Cohen Hall
Frances Bernstein, Drew University
"Prosthetic Manhood in the Soviet Union at the end of World War Two"
Abstract: Millions of Soviet soldiers were disabled as a direct consequence of their service in the Second World War. Yet despite its expressions of gratitude for their sacrifices, the state evinced a great deal of discomfort regarding their damaged bodies. The countless armless and legless veterans were a constant reminder of the destruction suffered by the country as a whole, an association increasingly incompatible with the post-war agenda of wholesale reconstruction. This article focuses on a key strategy for erasing the scars of war, one with ostensibly unambiguous benefit for the disabled themselves: the development of prostheses. In addition to fostering independence from others and ultimately from the state, artificial limbs would facilitate the veterans return to the kinds of socially useful labor by which the country defined itself. In so doing, this strategy engendered the establishment of a new model of masculinity: a prosthetic manhood.