Together these three articles call for a deeper listening to Deaf Culture

Together these three articles call for a deeper

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Together, these three articles call for a deeper listening to Deaf Culture talking — to its internal and indigenous ways of being that are themselves powerful means of “speak- ing out” with a Deaf public voice that speaks on its own terms. The following section, Deaf Perception and Community, carries out Ladd’s search for Deaf epistemologies as it examines the visual orientation of the Deaf world and its impact on the formation of Deaf communities, leading to the larger question of the re- lation of sensory perception and community affiliation. Long before they ever called themselves a culture, Deaf people referred to themselves as “people of the eye.” The no- tion of visual plenitude has always stood in contrast to audiological lack. Ben Bahan’s chapter, “Upon the Formation of a Visual Variety of the Human Race,” is the first time the various perspectives of Deaf visual-culture talking have been assembled into a single story. Bahan takes an interdisciplinary approach to Deaf visual practices through sign language linguistics, storytelling, pedagogy, cognition, proxemics, art, and literature. Through this interdisciplinary inquiry, we see how the Deaf world pushes the boundar- ies of vision beyond other cultural groups. If, as Bahan suggests, vision is a primary dimension of being in the Deaf world, then this way of being would logically transcend national and linguistic boundaries, open- ing the possibility for a transnational affiliation based on common ways of perception and experience. As Joseph Murray writes, Deaf people have historically “shared a com- mon experience of living as members of a visual community in an auditory world, an experience transcending local contexts and national boundaries.” In his chapter, “Co- equality and Transnational Studies: Understanding Deaf Lives,” Joseph Murray listens to another aspect of Deaf cultural talking — the talking that took place over the centuries between Deaf individuals from across the Atlantic. By moving beyond the nation-state narrative, Deaf Studies may better see the bonds that draw Deaf people together — to see what is most Deaf about being Deaf. Hilde Haualand’s essay, “Sound and Belonging: What Is a Community?” turns the gaze in the opposite direction: toward the deeply influential role that sound has played in dominant constructions of belonging and community. Haualand describes how the physical properties of sound and light operate differently and thus disclose a different sensory grasp and metaphysical relation with the world. The perceived bond between sound and being may have profound cultural, linguistic, and cognitive consequences. “Confusing language with speech,” Haualand writes, “may thus be a consequence of the metaphysics of sound.” Such an approach marks a new direction for Deaf Studies that would parallel the turns in Black Studies to investigate the constructions of whiteness or in Women’s Studies the construction of masculinity. Now, the notion of hearing can be placed in relief through the perspective of a Deaf anthropologist for its difference.
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  • Summer '18
  • Monroe
  • deaf bookbinder

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