Revisionist scholarship has redirected our interpretations of race, class, and gender, but has yet to fully address a fundamental component in our historical identity: physical ability and its underlying concept of normality. Studies in Deaf history offer one approach to this issue by assessing the community through a cultural lens rather than a medical or pathological interpretation. Many scholars in Deaf history have focused primarily on Western Europe and the United States in their work, inadvertently creating an image of a monolithic Deaf culture. This study, which compares experiences in late Imperial and early Soviet Russia, also challenges the narrow medical model of Deafness. By revealing a significantly different discourse between government and Deaf people, and unique interactions within the Deaf community, this paper also raises important questions about the factors which inform Deaf cultural identities. Russia's unique social and economic structures produced a divergent Deaf identity, as well as alternative subversive activity in order to preserve their community. The differences between the development of cultural Deaf history in the West versus Russia point out further ways in which historians can investigate the history of minorities, as well as disabilities.

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pp. 393-401
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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