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This project investigates the effects of illness, injury, and disability on professional musicians. Issues of the musician’s identity, importance of reputation, and disability stigma are explored through firsthand accounts of 15 musicians who faced health challenges during their careers. My original research also includes the data from 200 responses to my musicians’ health survey. The patchwork of resources available to these musicians is examined through the lenses of human rights claiming and humanitarian charity, with a focus on healthcare, interpersonal accommodations, and the currently insufficient legal protections for this population.
On a micro scale, this paper is about the experiences of my interviewees and their accounts of self advocacy for accommodation as musicians navigating illness, injury, and disability. Musicians claim their human rights in a field that does not effectively protect them. On a macro scale, this paper reflects and acknowledges the crucial role of the arts as a key element of creating, protecting, and expressing culture. When arts are valued for their contribution to society, the support and protection for artists becomes crucial. Holding these two levels of reality with me throughout this research process, I conducted research into musicians’ complex experiences and suffering at the interface of career and illness, injury, and disability, that goes largely overlooked and unaddressed. I studied the experiences of artists who contribute enormously to our culture and society, while considering the right to culture, including music, as an essential element of civilization, and a tool combatting the divisive rights-violating forces in the world.
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Reed, Jillian P., "Health in the Musical Profession: A Human Rights Investigation at the Intersections of Identity, Reputation, and Resources" (2020). Senior Projects Spring 2020. 205.
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