Do Signals Have Politics? Inscribing Abilities in Cochlear Implants

Mara Mills

in The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195388947
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Do Signals Have Politics? Inscribing Abilities in Cochlear Implants

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This article discusses autoexperiments, field notes, and laboratory tests on the hardware and software of cochlear implants. Electroacoustic devices resist seeing-through. Yet in the case of cochlear implants, the desires of early users, the conflicting demands of mainstream medicine and economics, and the mediated features of electrical listening, the politics attendant upon communication can be found embedded in the design of electroacoustic objects. Many bioethicists have taken up the Deaf culture or linguistic minority critique of implantation, which situates this technology in the long history of eugenicist attempts to promote oralism through the medical eradication of deafness and through pedagogical bans on sign language. Despite the prominence of the cochlear implant in disability studies, bioethics, and science fiction, however, this has inspired little research in science and technology studies (STS).

Keywords: cochlear implants; electroacoustic objects; Deaf culture; oralism; bioethics

Article.  11740 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Sound Studies ; Applied Music

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