very little on the cultural dimensions and theoretical critiques of existing

Very little on the cultural dimensions and

This preview shows page 9 - 10 out of 32 pages.

very little on the cultural dimensions and theoretical critiques of existing social struc- tures. The struggle over the contents of Deaf Studies is symptomatic of larger battles over self-determination that have been a part of the critical work of Deaf Studies since its inception. The field of Deaf Studies originally developed along the model of other minority studies; yet it would be unthinkable for African American Studies or Women Studies journals to focus almost exclusively on empirical educational research. Instead, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, Deaf Studies, and other allied fields cri- tique existing social arrangements that have served to marginalize their kind; they ex- plore the complexities of identity construction within a political context, and they cel- ebrate what is most unique to their ways of being. As such, Deaf Studies has explored a wide spectrum of topics, many of which which fall under the more general notions of identity, power, and language. In what follows, the reader will be provided with an overview of some of the prin- ciple discussions that have taken place in the fi eld. Having such a background will help provide context for the discussions that take place in the following chapters. Deaf Identity and Cultural Politics It should come as no surprise that the concepts of identity and culture have been a central preoccupation of Deaf Studies since its inception. This focus is not unique to Deaf Studies, but to all minority studies, especially in their formative stages. Power over defining and developing identity is itself the battleground of the most important ideo- logical battles of the past thirty years. Rewriting deaf to Deaf is about disowning an im- posed medicalized identity and developing an empowered identity rooted in a commu- nity and culture of others who share similar experiences and outlooks on the world. As soon as the orthographic proclamation of “big D” Deaf was made, Deaf Studies schol- ars had to describe what made someone Deaf as opposed to deaf. Carol Padden was one of the earliest to ask and answer the question, “Who are Deaf people?” 49 “Deaf peo- ple can be born into the culture, as in the case of children of Deaf parents. They begin learning the language of their parents from birth and thus acquire native competence in that language.” 50 This early model clearly favored those who enter the Deaf world at birth, who are themselves deaf, and, most importantly, who share the cultural values of Deaf people. These values, according to Padden, are, first and foremost, use and respect for ASL, as opposed to speech, for face-to-face communication. Deaf people also value their social and family ties within the Deaf world and they learn values of the culture through literature. Padden then makes further distinctions of the cultural boundaries of Deaf people by how difficult it is for outsiders, such as those raised orally, to assimi- late to the ways of Deaf people — from eye gaze to cultural patterns of introductions and value systems.
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  • Summer '18
  • Monroe
  • deaf bookbinder

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