Older veterans: The materiality of reminiscence, making unknown histories knowable and forging social connections

Emma Long, Annabelle Edwards, Brigit McWade, Samuel Clark, Liz Brewster

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Materials have long been used by individuals reflecting on personal histories, and researchers have evidenced the associated therapeutic value particularly among older populations. In this article, we consider older veterans’ reminiscence through attending interviews and workshops, focussing on the performative potential of engaging with materials collected throughout their service lives. By considering their use of in situ and post-hoc materials, two themes are explored: the use of materials to build a sense of belonging; and making unknown histories knowable. We consider how their sharing of materials (re)produces their past and present military identities, simultaneously drawing boundaries of inclusion and exclusion around what it means to be military or non-military (civilian). Through sharing materials, veterans facilitated discussions with both military and non-military persons, enabling feelings of connection and belonging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)892-908
Number of pages17
JournalMemory Studies
Issue number4
Early online date24 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

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