Claire L. Jones
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This chapter provides an introduction to the commodification of prostheses in nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain and United States. By addressing some of the main processes used to commodify prostheses - invention, design and production; use and consumption; and promotion and patenting – it highlights how the medical profession, surgical instruments makers and individuals with physical impairments not only participated in shaping markets for new and modified assistive devices, but by doing so, redefined what it meant to be ‘abled’ and ‘disabled’ in this period. It argues that the redefinition of disability in this period – as a medical affliction that needed to be ‘corrected’ – led to the rise of disability rights activism in the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. The previously little explored history of prostheses commodification, introduced here, formed no small part in the rise of these movements.

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