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5 - A Deaf Imaginary

Disability, Nationhood and Belonging in the ‘British World’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2022

Esme Cleall
Affiliation:
University of Sheffield
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Summary

This chapter explores how one particular group of people defined as disabled, Deaf people, experienced and articulated that identity. Whilst deaf people were labelled ‘foreigners in their native land’, in this chapter I argue that deaf people came to inhabit distinct cultural identities, positively identifying with what they called the ‘deaf World’, or sometimes the ‘deaf nation’. Working from the twenty-first century backwards, there is good reason to focus on deafness as a particular case study here: contemporary theorists have argued that deaf identity is so strong that it operates as a form of ‘ethnicity’. Whilst, as I discuss, there continues to be disagreement about the utility of framing deaf people as an ethnic group, I use the idea of deafness as an ethnicity as a starting point to think about deaf community in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In particular, I explore what deaf belonging means for the intersection of identities based around nationhood with those constructed around disability. The Chapter therefore explores, deaf communities in Britain (through the deaf press, deaf intermarriage etc), deaf plans for a separatist deaf state or colony, and deaf internationalism.

Type
Chapter
Information
Colonising Disability
Impairment and Otherness Across Britain and Its Empire, c. 1800–1914
, pp. 148 - 181
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • A Deaf Imaginary
  • Esme Cleall, University of Sheffield
  • Book: Colonising Disability
  • Online publication: 21 July 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108983266.006
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  • A Deaf Imaginary
  • Esme Cleall, University of Sheffield
  • Book: Colonising Disability
  • Online publication: 21 July 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108983266.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • A Deaf Imaginary
  • Esme Cleall, University of Sheffield
  • Book: Colonising Disability
  • Online publication: 21 July 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108983266.006
Available formats
×