Title:
“Not a Vacation, But a Hardening Process”: The Self-Empowerment Work of Therapeutic Craft in Nova Scotia
Author:
Erin Morton: Department of History, University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, Canada
DOI:
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146773
Read article:
Full article (pdf)
Year:
2014
Volume:
6
Theme:
Theme: Therapeutic Cultures Edited by Allan Apperley, Stephen Jacobs & Mark Jones

Pages:
773-789
No. of pages:
17
Publication type:
Article
Published:
2014-10-01


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 attitude 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 “individualistic 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.
Keywords: Therapeutic craft; arts and craft revivalism; occupational therapy; antimodernism; tourism; Nova Scotia; economic development

Volume 6, Theme:: Theme: Therapeutic Cultures Edited by Allan Apperley, Stephen Jacobs & Mark Jones

, Article 42, 2014

Author:
Erin Morton
Title:
“Not a Vacation, But a Hardening Process”: The Self-Empowerment Work of Therapeutic Craft in Nova Scotia:
DOI:
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146773
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