ities of Deaf identity construction Guy McIlroy proposes the term DeaF where

Ities of deaf identity construction guy mcilroy

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ities of Deaf identity construction, Guy McIlroy proposes the term “DeaF” where the capitalized F indicates a f luidity of identities, not essentially rooted in either Deaf or hearing worlds, but in the cultural agility that “handles the interface/tension between both worlds.” 74 The DeaF position is to be aspired to where one’s identity is bilingually and biculturally fluid and fluent. From deaf and dumb to DeaF, intense battles have been fought, not only over the power to name oneself, but over what sort of self should be named. Each label is a spe- cific lens ground through the heated debates over the meaning of bodily difference within a context of unequal power-relations. Deaf Studies has provided a field in which these debates may be discussed and debated; it has also brought these concerns from the peripheries of social concern directly into the discourse of civil and human rights. Open Your Eyes features several chapters that discuss the myriad ways that people are Deaf, as well as the profound impact that oppression — in this case, audism — has on the lives of Deaf individuals. As audism is a new concept for many, some background infor- mation will be helpful for those listening to Deaf Studies talking. Power: Audism and the Critique of Normalcy Before there was racism, there was racism; before the word there was the practice. 75 Yet, after the word was coined, it has become a powerful tool to collect the diverse prac- tices of oppression and compress them into a single lens through which we can see just how deeply racism structures societal arrangements and identities. While the con- cept and word racism has shaped how we see the world, the discriminatory treatment of deaf individuals throughout history had no name until 1975 when Tom Humphries coined the term audism, based on the Latin audire, meaning “to hear.” In his original article, Humphries defined audism as “the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.” 76 Despite the usefulness of having a name for oppression, Humphries did not publish his article on audism, and the word remained dormant throughout the 1980s, despite the explosion of Deaf activ- ism. It was not until Harlan Lane’s 1992 The Mask of Benevolence that audism gained further definition and usage. Lane discussed the systemic nature of audism, defin- ing it as “the corporate institution for dealing with deaf people, dealing with them by making statements about them, authorizing views of them, describing them, teaching about them, governing where they go to school and, in some cases, where they live; in short, audism is the hearing way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising authority over the deaf community.” 77 Thanks to Lane’s development of the concept, awareness of audism began to spread through the 1990s. A few years later, Lennard Davis alerted <i>Open Your Eyes : Deaf Studies Talking</i>, edited by H-Dirksen L. Bauman, University of Minnesota Press, 2007. ProQuest Ebook Central, .
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