Deaf geographies, and other worlds.
It’s been while since I posted… largely due to work and family factors.
However, something has recently cropped up that has prompted me to post.
Recently, I was asked to present something at London’s Healthy Deaf Minds on DEAF space. The evening was great and there were about 120 people there… conversations afterwards were really interesting, and several people went away pondering the question of how a DEAF space micropolitics might impact on the more traditioanl form of Deaf politics.
A few weeks later i got a Facebook message from someone who was there and who chatted to me afterwards about his work on cued-speech, the system where deaf people’s speech is prompted by syllabic handshapes positioned next to the mouth… Apparently, he has asked to present something at HDM and been turned down because ‘DEAF space is BSL only’.
If this is true, then DEAF space has been lifted from its non-temporal, descriptive, core-out roots… and mobilised to exclude things that are not ‘DEAF’.
This is not something that should surprise. Since DEAF is a descriptor of (what’s expected)… and one of the elements of what makes a ‘deaf’ person ‘DEAF’ is their adoption of a contestatory ‘Deaf’ politics, then it follows that DEAF currently contains a large chunk of ‘Deaf’… and it also then potentially follows that DEAF space would be ‘BSL only’.
But, that ignores the descriptive potential that was at the origin of ‘DEAF’ as a concept; that allows DEAF to describe something completely different should that emerge as ‘expected’ within the community… something that could, potentially, be the opposite of BSL; cued speech for example.
Which rather led me to wonder if my use of DEAF is actually as problem-free as I originally thought… and to conclude that it clearly isn’t…
… which means that there is another piece of work to be done to look at the way that DEAF emerges from particular spaces and cultures and knowledges produced by a section of a larger humanity… perhaps containing the notion of exclusivity…
It goes beyond a DEAF geography, and back towards a geography of humanity as the entirely of those who live from within situated physical bodies…