Performing Veteranhood Through the Creative Arts: An Ethnographic Study of Recognition and Sociality Among Veterans Living in a Canadian Seniors’ Village

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Graham, Megan Elizabeth




This research explores the performance of veteranhood through the creative arts. It investigates how music-making affects sociality and recognition of Canadian World War II and Korean War veterans living in long-term care. I draw upon phenomenology as the guiding theoretical framework to explore the embodied dimensions of sociality, recognition, and performance of veteran identity through the creative arts. This dissertation draws upon other theorists beyond phenomenology to analyze the myriad dimensions of institutional veteran care. I make the following arguments in this dissertation: First, I argue that the veteran-residents were provided with care for their physical well-being, as well as care for their social identities as veterans. I contend that the creative arts programs were a form of milieu therapy, where daily music-making and singing war songs together was a means to restore, rehearse, and perform veteranhood. Second, I argue that people entering long-term care went through a process of un-making and re-making as they were transformed into residents, and then into veteran-residents. I argue that this experience was negotiated by performances of self-authoring and expressions of resistance. Third, I argue that the biomedical and creative arts doxas of care provided for the veterans were ambivalently-related to one another and that each was constitutive of a different sense of selfhood. I explore how porters mediated the milieus and accompanied residents on these existential shifts. Fourth, I argue that the group music programs, such as the resident bands, provided a stage for veteran-residents' new forms of sociality and recognition in a milieu framed as "play" with musical materials from which to construct their identities. Finally, I argue that an ethopolitics and a politics of recognition informed social conditions around performances of veteranhood.


Veterans -- Canada
Music therapy




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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