Journal Article

Seeing the Deaf in “Deafness”

Chijioke Obasi

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 13, issue 4, pages 455-465
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI:
Seeing the Deaf in “Deafness”

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  • Education
  • Linguistics
  • Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs


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This article draws on some of the existing literature on the politics of identity and representation as related to minority group formation. It applies this to constructions of Deaf2 identity from a cultural and linguistic perspective and contrasts this with dominant constructions of Deaf people as disabled. It highlights a number of ways in which Deaf identity differs from disabled identity, demonstrating that the cultural and linguistic construction of Deaf people is a more useful tool for analysis. It raises questions aimed to examine the discourse on deafness and seeks further debate on how best the discourse can be progressed. The article raises issues related to the use of terminology and labeling in the field of deafness. It contends that the continued use of the word deafness is unworkable and should be more widely recognized as a social construct, which has current usage beyond the paradigm in which it was originally intended. The article concludes by recognizing the importance of diversity in identity formation, while simultaneously calling for an appreciation of the need to incorporate this diversity within wider theorizing, focused on commonality and cohesion in identity as a source of collective expression and political mobilization.

Journal Article.  6827 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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