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Injuries, Impairment, and Intersecting Identities: The Poor in Buffalo

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Title:Injuries, Impairment, and Intersecting Identities: The Poor in Buffalo
Authors:Byrnes, Jennifer
Date Issued:2017
Publisher:Springer International Publishing
Citation:Byrnes, J. F. (2017). Injuries, Impairment, and Intersecting Identities: The Poor in Buffalo, NY 1851–1913. In J. F. Byrnes & J. L. Muller (Eds.), Bioarchaeology of Impairment and Disability: Theoretical, Ethnohistorical, and Methodological Perspectives (pp. 201–222). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
Abstract:According to intersectionality theory, the intersection of age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and physical impairment can create dynamic social identities. This theoretical stance is supported by historical and osteological evidence about the former residents of the Erie County Poorhouse . Historical records suggest that, in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, poorhouse “inmates” were generally considered “undeserving poor.” Identities were constructed through the complex interaction of multiple facets of their individual identities. Although the path to the poorhouse varied, one commonality was an inability to work and support oneself. Erie County Hospital annual reports indicated that males were ten times more likely to be treated for traumatic injuries than females. Similar demographic trends were observed in the skeletal sample recovered during salvage excavations at the former Erie County Poorhouse cemetery. Skeletal analyses of 207 adult skeletons indicated that adult males were more than four times as likely to acquire observable appendicular traumatic injuries as adult female. When clinical literature was used as a guide to assess physical impairment, traumatic injuries tended to be more severe in males versus females. These findings suggest that the constituent elements of their social identities predisposed individuals to differential risk of sustaining traumatic injuries and associated physical impairments. Physical impairments may have variously reinforced or altered perceived social identities via the intersection of disabled identities.
Pages/Duration:21 pages
Appears in Collections: Byrnes, Jennifer

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