We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Deaf Identities in the Making

Local Lives, Transnational Connections

Jan-Kåre Breivik

Publication Year: 2005

In his revolutionary new book, Jan-Kåre Breivik profiles ten Norwegian Deaf people and their life stories within a translocal/transnational framework. Breivik notes that, unlike hearing people, who form their identities from familial roots and local senses of place, deaf individuals often find themselves distanced from their own families and akin to other deaf people in far locations. His study records emerging deaf identities, which he observes are always in the making, and if settled, only temporarily so. To capture the identification processes involved, he relies upon a narrative perspective to trace identity as temporarily produced through autobiographical accounts or capsule life stories. As a result, he has produced striking, in-depth accounts of how core questions of identity are approached from different deaf points of view. The ten stories in Deaf Identities in the Making reveal deaf people who would like a stronger link to the Deaf world. Each story sheds different light on the overriding, empowering master narrative that has become an integral feature of the Deaf community. Like success stories from other minorities, the Deaf life story reinforces the collective empowerment process in a Deaf social milieu. Because of these revelations, Breivik’s findings easily reverberate globally in conjunction to the striking similarities of deaf lives around the world, particularly those connected with the experiences of being translocal signers who have struggled for identity in an overwhelmingly hearing context.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.6 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (10.5 KB)
pp. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (24.6 KB)
pp. vii-viii

In writing this book, I have been guided by many friends and colleagues and helped by a few key institutions and organizations. I am in particular indebted to the deaf people who shared their life stories with me—and hence made this book possible. I am also indebted to numerous other deaf people who I approached during the years of research upon which this book is based (from 1996 ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (90.0 KB)
pp. 1-16

These are all important questions related to identity. However, identity is a tricky concept. It connotes sameness and is used to differentiate oneself from others, natives from foreigners, deaf people from hearing people, and so forth. At an individual level, sameness is connected to the process of becoming and creating oneself. At a collective level, it is about group ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (128.8 KB)
pp. 17-44

The experiential difference of deafness installs an initial sense of isolation, strangeness, and loneliness in most deaf people—leading to the tremendous challenge of social identification and existential self-awareness. The fact that many deaf life stories take the narrative format of a travelogue is connected to this and to the early, embodied metaphors of “spatial ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (145.8 KB)
pp. 45-77

Deafened people are also pathologized from yet another angle. Within the Deaf signing communities as well, deafened people are often viewed as suspect figures. This is because they are not accepted as being really deaf, and they are often accused of being too willing to pass as hearing people. Deafened people seldom learn sign language fluently. Because fluency is a ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (131.1 KB)
pp. 78-106

In Klara’s life, there are few solid anchorage points, and a central leitmotif in her story is thus her thorough sense of homelessness or strangeness. For Giddens (1990), homelessness is one of “the consequences of modernity” that, through different “disembedding mechanisms,” contributes to the lifting of the individual out of his or her social connectedness and structural ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (166.4 KB)
pp. 107-145

Sally and Albertine grew up with a stronger sense of love and shelter than Klara, and they were not challenged by abuse and neglect as she was. Both of them were born deaf into hearing families that they describe as caring. The sense of disorientation and void was there, however, but in less hampering and traumatic ways. Their entrance into the ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (175.8 KB)
pp. 146-184

... quite late in the process of jointly working on the structure of her life story, and it is informative of the way she has come to think about herself as a Deaf person. I met both Lisa and Bill for the first time at a DAF gathering at Ål in 1999 and was able to recruit them for my research project. They both thought my research was rather biased. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (111.2 KB)
pp. 185-206

Deaf people, as sign language users, make up linguistic minorities. In each of these minorities, there are developed traditions and ways of being, characteristic of that community but with many cultural aspects in common. Differences in this respect mostly are due to local and national, past and present differences, which in various degrees have limited or hampered ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (49.8 KB)
pp. 207-212


pdf iconDownload PDF (49.2 KB)
pp. 213-220

E-ISBN-13: 9781563683350
E-ISBN-10: 1563683350
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563682766
Print-ISBN-10: 1563682761

Page Count: 228
Publication Year: 2005