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Deaf and Disability Studies

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Susan Burch and Alison Kafer, Editors

Publication Year: 2010

This collection presents 14 essays by renowned scholars on Deaf people, Deafhood, Deaf histories, and Deaf identity, but from different points of view on the Deaf/Disability compass. Editors Susan Burch and Alison Kafer have divided these works around three themes. The first, Identities and Locations, explores Deaf identity in different contexts. Topics range from a history of activism shaped by the ableism of Deaf elites in the United States from 1880–1920, to a discussion of the roles that economics, location, race, and culture play in the experiences of a Deaf woman from northern Nigeria now living in Washington, D.C. Alliances and Activism showcases activisim organized across differences. Studies include a feminist analysis of how deaf and hearing women working together share responsibility, and an examination of how intra-cultural variations in New York City and Quebec affect deaf-focused HIV/AIDS programs. The third theme, Boundaries and Overlaps, explicitly addresses the relationships between Deaf Studies and Disability Studies. Interviews with scholars from both disciplines help define these relationships. Another contributor calls for hearing/not-deaf people with disabilities to support their Deaf peers in gaining language access to the United Nations. Deaf and Disability Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives reveals that different questions often lead to contrary conclusions among their authors, who still recognize that they all have a stake in this partnership.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

Chapters Organized by Keyword

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pp. xi-xii

This work emerged from a collective desire to foster community and dialogue. The 2006 Society for Disability Studies (SDS) conference in Washington, D.C., provided the first formal “home” for this conversation, although scholars and activists have long engaged with the ideas and...

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pp. xiii

Questions of identity, history, and language loom large in a project like this one. And the questions are neither easy nor discrete: mapping where issues of identity diverge from those of history, or untangling questions of language from those of identification, quickly becomes impossible...

Part One Identities and Locations

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Introduction and Section Questions

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pp. 3-4

Questions about identity often have been central in deaf and disability studies, and the essays in this first section explore the impact of historical, geographic, political, and cultural context on individual and community identities. They reflect an array of expectations and positions in...

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“We Are of a Different Class”

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pp. 5-21

In 1896 an article in a deaf newspaper asserted deaf people’s normalcy, affirming that “in every respect except the one particular of having their ears closed, [the deaf are] the same as other people.”,1 Like this anonymous author, deaf leaders regularly sought to emphasize...

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Intersecting Reflections

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pp. 22-30

I grew up in conservative Muslim Northern Nigeria during the 1970s and 1980s when there were very few civil rights or disability rights organizations. In the northern part of the country during my childhood, there were regular epidemics: measles, meningitis, and even polio. Education rates in the North trailed those in the South, and girls generally received...

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Deaf Matters

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pp. 31-47

At a recent conference, I participated in a roundtable discussion on the spectrum of deaf and Deaf identity and language use; all of us on the panel had learned American Sign Language (ASL) as teenagers or adults and so chose to either sign or speak our short presentations. We were familiar with the ways in which identity—and everyday life in this particular...

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Focus on Which (Deaf ) Space?

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pp. 48-66

In our increasingly globalized world, identity and belonging often transcend the trappings of place and space. Recent academic writing has stressed the importance of going beyond the local and exploring the emergence of transnational identities and communities (e.g., Appadurai 1993,...

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Contested Signs

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pp. 67-100

There is so much out there about the grief, the denial, and the anger, like in the death of a child. We definitely experienced the death of our child. I think there were enough people that realized that around us. We didn’t get a lot of “well, at least you have your...

Part Two Alliances and Activism

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Introduction and Section Questions

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pp. 103-104

The authors in this section center the work of activists and community members, critically examining relationships between and across various borderlines and highlighting the assumptions and implications of activist practices. Joan Ostrove and Gina Oliva open the section with...

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Identifying Allies

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pp. 105-119

In her work on the “social divide” between people with disabilities and nondisabled people, Carol Gill (2001) calls for work on nondisabled allies: people who stand up against disability oppression, who appreciate “their disabled associates . . . in their full glory and full ordinariness,” in...

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Deaf Community Approachesto HIV/AIDS

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pp. 120-143

HIV/AIDS has affected Deaf communities around the world. To understand its impact, we need to see it at multiple levels—from individual struggles with a debilitating condition, to networks of people at risk because they do not have information about this social disease, to the institutions...

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Unlikely Alliances

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pp. 144-161

Founded in 1864 as the Columbia Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, Gallaudet University has been described as a utopia for the American deaf community, a place that historically has celebrated a shared cultural and linguistic identity. Subsequent scholarship in deaf history has confirmed...

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Dale Dahl and Judy Heumann: Deaf Man, Disabled Woman— Allies in 1970s Berkeley

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pp. 162-188

In describing the civil rights movement for people with disabilities and Deaf people,1 scholars and community members generally have omitted significant events that united individuals across various identity categories. It is vital to reconsider these important historic intersections as a way of better understanding not only the past but also the factors that shape...

Part Three Boundaries and Overlaps

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Introduction and Section Questions

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pp. 191-192

Essays in this final section highlight, question, redefine, bridge, and complicate the boundaries and overlaps between Deaf and Disability Studies as well as deaf and disabled people. The interviews with Yerker Andersson and Nirmala Erevelles offer—literally and conceptually—dialogues between scholars interested in both fields and invite closer consideration...

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Deaf and Disability Studies

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pp. 193-203

The following transcript emerged from an extended conversation, sometimes in person and other times by means of e-mail, between Susan Burch (SB) and Yerker Andersson (YA). SB: Yerker, your personal and professional biographies...

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Committed Critique

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pp. 204-221

Nirmala Erevelles served on the board of the Society for Disability Studies from 2005 to 2007, and she was one of the program chairs for the 2006 conference that inspired this collection. As part of that project, Nirmala and Alison helped organize a plenary session on disability,...

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“What Not to Pack”

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pp. 222-234

The room is hot and dark and crammed with women. Some of them are dressed in kangas—traditional East African fabric worn as skirts, shawls, and head coverings—and some in Western-style dresses and blouses—some blind, a few with crutches, one albino, and several deaf. They come from all over Dar es Salaam and its surrounding villages, meeting here...

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Testing the Social Model of Disability

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pp. 235-244

In the 1980s, the United Nations (UN) sponsored both a Year of the Disabled Persons (1981) and a Decade of Disabled Persons (1983–1992). These events represented an important shift in the organization’s attention to issues of human rights for the largest minority in the world: people with...

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The Tango

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pp. 245-266

In American Sign Language, the “do-do” or “what-do?” sign is used to ask of something, someone, yourself, “What are/is we/he/she/it doing?”1 This sign/concept does not translate simply or well into written English because it is more complex and nuanced than that simple gloss indicates...


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pp. 267-286


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pp. 287-290


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pp. 291-310

About the Front Cover

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pp. 340-341

E-ISBN-13: 9781563684654
E-ISBN-10: 1563684659
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563684647
Print-ISBN-10: 1563684640

Page Count: 340
Illustrations: 1 table
Publication Year: 2010