DEAF Geography at RGS Annual Conference 

On 31 August, the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society is hosting it’s first session dedicated to DEAF Geographies, Intersecting Geographical Imaginations: Social Geography and Deaf Studies. There is an excellent line-up of papers and Tracey Skelton is the discussant. Check them out here:

The abstract for the session reads:

Acknowledging notable exceptions such as of the work of Valentine and Skelton (2003 and 2007) and Batterbury et al. (2007), social geography has largely yet to engage in an evolved dialogue with Deaf Studies. This is surprising, as at the intersection of human, social, cultural geographies and Deaf Studies we find exciting potential to think about spatiality, language, citizenship, education, and identity, as well as a myriad of further themes of interest to the social geographer, in new ways. From within Deaf Studies, for example, Emery has pertinently identified ‘…the ways in which Deaf citizens are excluded from citizenship, namely, due to citizenship being phonocentric, [and] social policy being audist’ (2009: 42). Engaging with such discourses can lead to a broadening of the geographical imagination by highlighting the subtle biases with which our research and philosophical perspectives can become, often unknowingly, inflected. Academic discourses around d/Deafness have served to perpetuate constructions of the Deaf figure as ‘other’ in social thought. Perceived as a markedly different identity, considerations of d/Deafness have been disproportionately informed by a disability-led understanding, which has undermined and critically neglected the understanding of Deaf culturo-linguistic identity. As Obasi posits; ‘[t]he myopia of this perspective prevents us from looking beyond audiology to see the fuller picture of visual and linguistic plenitude identified from within Deaf cultural theorizing’ (Obasi, 2008: 458). Using these lenses, we begin to deconstruct traditional discourses around the social construction of place. Critical perspectives from scholarly work in both Deaf studies and social geography will contest and negotiate the threshold existing at the interface of both disciplines. The overall aims of the session are: * to draw focus to discourses that are of shared mutual interest to social geography and Deaf Studies; * to revisit, deconstruct, challenge and destabilise hitherto accepted ideologies in light of this engagement; * to generate and develop understandings of how such inter-disciplinary conversations can enrich both. In doing so, the session promotes discourses which seek to challenge and overturn audist perspectives and present new opportunities to rethink identity and conceptualise space as shaped by the mosaic of difference.