Devon James Asmus

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Buffalo, State U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10490

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Asmus, Devon (New York, Buffalo, State U. of) "Equine Assisted Therapy for Veterans and the Politics of Post-War Embodiment in the United States"

This project explores how U.S. military veterans and therapists in equine-assisted therapy programs address human and horse injuries in the aftermath of war and suffering at two different locations in upstate New York, a care farm and a race stable. Integrating literature on veterans’ trauma with discussions of humans and animals in therapy, I ask how therapists and trainers design encounters between humans and horses, and how their divergent therapeutic approaches reflect different stances toward war, suffering, and the politics of care. I hypothesize that the different regimes of care that inform these therapy programs promote concepts of human and animal injury through which certain forms of suffering, intimacy, and vulnerability are made apprehensible while others are obscured. To assess this hypothesis, I plan to observe interpersonal and embodied interactions among veterans, horses, therapists, and barn hands during therapy sessions; analyze therapists’ understandings of injury etiologies and treatment methods; and assess how disability discourses promoted by the U.S. Veterans Administration affect participants’ understandings of war and trauma. In so doing, I explore how injuries from war or other forms of violence figure into wider political contestations over care for the disabled’whether they be human or animal.