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  • Mike Gulliver 2:54 pm on May 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    What might happen to the UK, if children were encouraged to learn BSL at school – lessons from the US. 

    This was originally posted by John Walker on Facebook, and is reproduced here by permission. John’s responding to a question about how introducing a GSCE in British Sign Language might affect the lives of Deaf people in the UK, comparing the UK to the US, where students can take ASL as a ‘foreign’ language option.

    Over the last two weeks, I spent some time in the States and I have experienced, first hand, how this resource [the GSCE in BSL] will change the lives of Deaf and hard of hearing people. In America, children can learn ASL. In two weeks, here is what I encountered:

    1. Problems to buy a train ticket, station security explained how in ASL.
    2. Restaurant manager took us to our table, I asked, in ASL, to put the ice hockey match on the TV screen and she understood.
    3. I made an order at a noodle bar in ASL, she understood.
    4. I asked an attendant about a pair of boots, she tried to persuade me to look at their on-line collection in ASL. I said no as I was only there for 24 hours.
    5. I tried to order an espresso in ASL and someone repeated my order in English (after asking first).
    6. I was in a queue to rearrange my flight, the guy next to me repeated, in ASL, the flights that were just about to depart and whether I should jump the queue.
    7. A woman asked, in ASL, if I could swap my seat with her newly-wed husband as they wanted to be together for the flight – I said no problem.
    8. I nervously approached the USA immigration official for a passport check and ’50 questions’; when I introduce myself, he said his sign name was “EJ” and asked if I was bringing apples into the country.

    In these situations, one would never find an ASL/English interpreter, and in these situations, I am treated as a human being.

    The BSL GCSE project is being proposed by Signature, and here’s where you can find more information and a link to vote for it.

    (Note – voting for this closed on the 5th May. News of whether the campaign reached the semi finals of the competition on the 19th May – you can follow the link and register for news.)

  • Mike Gulliver 11:16 am on May 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Annelies Kusters, , Gallaudet University Press   

    ‘Deaf Space’ in a Gallaudet University Press title. 

    This is a link to the GUP newsletter for this month, with an intro to Annelies Kusters’ book on the work that she did with the Deaf community in Ghana.


    The blurb says:

    “In Deaf Space in Adamorobe: An Ethnographic Study in a Village in Ghana, author Annelies Kusters reveals how deaf people in Adamorobe do not live in a social paradise and how they create their own “Deaf space” by seeking each other out to form a society of their own. But what’s so special about Adamorobe, and why did Kusters choose this place to do research?

    When Deaf people ask these questions, Kusters usually replies, “You know Martha’s Vineyard, right? The place where a relatively large number of deaf people were born and many hearing people knew sign? You know that this situation has vanished now? But did you know that there are actually similar communities around the world? Well, one of these is located in Ghana and called Adamorobe.” Kusters is quick to point out, however, that she was not in search of a “deaf dreamworld” or a “utopian place.” “What brought me there were master’s degrees in both anthropology and Deaf studies, and a personal and scientific interest in the many different ways in which deaf people lead their lives in different sociocultural contexts.”

    “This book,” she clarifies, “thus comprises my representation of my observations and the conversations during my visit in Adamorobe, not a representation of Adamorobe deaf people’s everyday life. My position as a (deaf) outsider with a background in Deaf studies and anthropology was important in that I asked (often unexpected) questions and stimulated my interlocutors to elaborate on certain themes, to tell me certain stories. We revisited the same themes over and over again and a (highly ambiguous) picture started to emerge. In this book, I am presenting quotes, situation descriptions, and transcripts of dialogues to illustrate and evoke what I saw and what we discussed; but again, these are the interpretations and translations of an outsider with a necessarily limited understanding of local culture, kinship structures, history, and language. Also, since this research happened during a particular moment in time (2008–2009), deaf people in Adamorobe might tell other stories and lay different emphasis in their present discourses.”

    I’ve read the book in pre-print, and it’s great.

    There’s a link to buy in the newsletter article.

  • Mike Gulliver 9:25 am on April 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , AAG 2015, CART, publishing, transcriptions   

    Following the 2015 AAG – Chicago 

    I think – with perhaps one or two exceptions – we are all home from the AAG now, which means that it’s time to recap and think about how it went, and what we learned and talked about.

    We’ll be doing that over the next few weeks… in the meantime, we have some good news. The AAG’s organisation and communication of interpreting and CART (transcription) this year was the best I remember. And they’ve been tremendously generous; allowing us to have for free, and for free use, all of the transcriptions of the sessions, including the panel discussion.

    Given that we’re hoping to publish the proceedings from this AAG in an ebook form, this is a great help as it means that we don’t have to slave through a recording.

    The transcriptions will need checking for accuracy, but this will speed up the publication process no end.

    More news on the conference shortly.

  • Mike Gulliver 1:35 pm on October 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Call for Papers – Deaf Geographies: AAG 2015 – Chicago 

    Call for Papers – American Association of Geographers conference, 2015. Chicago.

    Mike Gulliver, University of Bristol: UK
    Gill Harold, University College Cork: Ireland
    Austin Kocher, The Ohio State University, US

    Geographical inquiry is making increased headway into understanding the realities and experiences of the world’s Deaf communities in areas as wide-ranging as the social and (signed) linguistic practices of the Deaf community (Valentine & Skelton 2003), the historical territories and forms of Deaf space (Gulliver 2009, Kitzel 2014), the spatialities of power and oppression experienced by Deaf individuals (Harold 2013), the role of space in everyday Deaf lives and in Deaf imaginations (Kusters 2010), embodied ontologies and productions of culture within a Deaf-centred built environment (Sangalang 2012), and the theoretical stakes of this research (Gulliver & Kitzel 2014).

    These investigations speak of the creative potential of humankind to produce and inhabit spaces that are shaped by a predominantly visual perçu (Lefebvre 1991) and represent a powerful critical lens through which to destabilize notions of environmental, social, cultural, linguistic and physical “normalcy”. Together, they form what we loosely call “Deaf Geographies”: a body of work that offers not only an alternatively-centred approach to more familiar areas of geographical inquiry, but also a formidable critique of the implicit assumption in human geography that human subjects are speaking and hearing.

    While existing work in the field provides useful foundations to Deaf Geographies, we nonetheless suggest that further inquiry into DEAF-WORLDS (Lane et al. 1996) can provide timely contributions to important questions that are of interest to a wide range of geographers. We are, therefore, keen to feature papers that focus on, but are not exclusively limited to, contemporary or historical aspects of:

    • The production and politics of Deaf spaces; embodiment, sensoria, languages, agency and identities.
    • The spatialities and mechanisms of Deaf subjects’ social inclusion or exclusion.
    • Deaf spatial autonomy and its linguistic/personal/physical (and other) facets.
    • Entanglements with and inhabitancy of hearing spaces and structures by Deaf people: justice, welfare, work, worship.
    • The power and potential of explicitly transformational Deaf cooperative (or intentional/utopian) practices; how might Deaf persons and allies have organized to secure justice, freedom, recognition, autonomy etc.
    • How best to describe and understand the spaces of what Bauman and Murray (2009) call “DEAF GAIN”.

    Within the Deaf Geographies sessions, we are also keen to feature a panel discussion exploring the recent, and deeply significant emergence of Deaf space research methodologies. Within this panel, we would envisage topics and questions comprising:

    • How Deaf space might develop, challenge and/or contribute to wider understandings of ‘knowledge spaces’ and academic praxis.
    • What Deaf space parallels might exist to the anthropological ‘ontological turn’, or indigenous research practices.
    • What the relationship of Deaf academic spaces, or sign language-mediated academic spaces might be vis-à-vis the hearing academic establishment.
    • Where and how might methodologies developed within Deaf spaces differ from those adopted to conduct research with or on the Deaf community.


    Bauman H and Murray J (2009) Reframing: From Hearing Loss to Deaf Gain. Deaf Studies Digital Journal, Issue 1, Fall 2009. Available in translation at http://dsdj.gallaudet.edu/assets/section/section2/entry19/DSDJ_entry19.pdf

    Gulliver M (2009) DEAF space, a history: The production of DEAF spaces Emergent, Autonomous, Located and Disabled in 18th and 19th century France. Unpublished PhD Thesis – University of Bristol: UK.

    Gulliver M and Kitzel M B (2014) – Deaf Geographies, an Introduction. Available from https://deafgeographies.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/deaf_geographies.pdf

    Harold G (2013), “Reconsidering sound and the city: asserting the right to the Deaf-friendly city” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31(5) 846 – 862

    Kitzel, M E (2014) ‘Chasing ancestors: searching for the roots of American Sign Language in the Kentish Weald, 1620-1851. PhD, University of Sussex, U.K.

    Kusters A (2010) ‘Deaf Utopias? Reviewing the Sociocultural Literature on the World’s “Martha’s Vineyard Situations”’. In: Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pp. 3-16.

    Lane H, Hoffmeister R and Bahan B (1996) (2nd Ed). A Journey into the DEAF-WORLD. DawnSignPress: San Diego

    Lefebvre H (1991) The Production of Space. Blackwell: Oxford

    Sangalang J (2012) – What is Privacy in Deaf Space?

    Skelton T & Valentine G (2003) ‘It feels like being Deaf is normal’: an exploration into the complexities of defining D/deafness and young D/deaf people’s identities. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien 47, no 4 (2003) 451–466.

    What to do now?

    If you would like to present a paper at the AAG 2015 in response to this call, you will need to:

    1. Register for the conference, and submit an abstract by the 5th November. All abstracts are accepted, and you can edit them later.
    2. Take a note of the Programme Identification Number (PIN) that you are issued upon submission of the abstract, and send it to the session organisers (via: mike.gulliver@bristol.ac.uk).
    3. The session organisers will allocate your paper a place within a session that appears to best fit.


    • Currently, we are envisaging two paper sessions and a panel discussion. We could be persuaded to go a fourth session if there is good interest.
    • If you have already expressed interest, and been contacted by the session organisers, then you can just go right ahead and register your abstract for the conference.
    • If you haven’t yet been in contact with the session organisers, or have any other questions, then please contact one of them, via: mike.gulliver@bristol.ac.uk
    • There will be an opportunity to publish papers from this session in an edited volume. However, papers will need to be in an ‘almost ready’ format prior to the conference so that publication schedules can be organised at the conference.


  • Mike Gulliver 1:51 pm on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Privacy in Deaf Space – Sangalang 

    Scouring the net, as I do, for things to do with Deaf Geographies, I alighted upon this Masters thesis by Jordan Sangalang who did his degree at Gallaudet. His thesis is entitled “What is Privacy in Deaf Space?

    The document is undated, but I’m guessing that it’s this year. I’ll be contacting him to tell him that we’ve featured it, and to ask him to follow us up – maybe even at the AAG.

    Addendum – Jordan has been in touch, and confirmed that the thesis is from 2012.

  • Mike Gulliver 9:36 am on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    What the AAG responses suggest about our direction as a field 

    Recently, the AAG – the American Association of Geographers – opened calls for articles and sessions for their 2015 conference. The conference runs in April, in Chicago, and attracts something like 7000 geographers from all over the world.

    A few of us associated with Deaf Geographies put out a call to those interested to see what the coverage of papers might be. The returns are interesting. Here are a few thoughts on the areas that we work in, and what that tells me about our current direction as a field.

    Some areas are holding station: There’s a clear presence of urban geography, historical geography, and geographies of design and of the built environment, social geographies also feature.

    Some areas are on the rise: Sensory geographies, activist geographies and methodologies, and explorations of new theoretical areas like utopia.

    One area appears to be falling away: Cultural geography.

    The patterns here are suggestive of a few directions.

    Firstly – the stability of (what I might call) outsider geographies… geographies that observe but don’t necessarily require an insider experience (to be valid to geography as a discipline, at least). Something like historical geography, for example, is an area that – by default – has to be explored by those who are not hundreds of years old. So it’s also a place where even Deaf academics would be ‘outsiders’ to an extent. Built environment work can be objective. Urban geographies is quite closely linked to geographies of the built environment and to social and disability geographies and the question of access which can be observed and assessed from outside. It’s interesting to consider that most of us working in these areas are hearing, and have more or less stable academic careers. Have we selected them because of the safety that they offer us in terms of our ‘hearingness’ in a Deaf-related area? Have we selected them because they sustain our stable careers? Have we selected them simply because we love them…? These are interesting questions.

    Second – the rise in more engaged and political geographies; Sensory areas and areas of embodiment that have been – until recently – almost taboo, activism, research ethics and new theoretical approaches. Again, this speaks to me of those who do them – and suggests that it in this more challenging and provocative area of engagement and empowerment that Deaf academics are finding a place. This is also the preserve of the postgrad student, who can go out on a limb in an area that doesn’t have to succumb to the structures and pressures of more traditional academic ‘business’ – barriers to interdisciplinary, standard curricula, funding body visions, journal coverage, REF panel selection, etc. Frankly, I’m delighted that these areas are opening up, but as the next section suggests, there are questions over how we embed them as core areas of Deaf Geography, and work out a foundation for them that will allow them to survive long-term.

    Thirdly – the drop in cultural geography areas is interesting… particularly since this is an area in which geography, more generally, is experiencing growth. One reason for this pattern is perhaps simply that those involved in these areas before were postgrads, and have moved onto new focuses. (it would be interesting to find out how many of those previously doing cultural geography work have moved because of the same pragmatic decisions that threaten our new and expanding areas). But it also strikes me that the struggle with cultural geography is symptomatic of a… malaise would be the wrong word… discomfort, uncertainty (?) over quite how to work on Deaf culture when Deaf culture itself is increasingly problematised by: cyborging, transhumanism, performative identities, language shift, the disintegration of Deaf spaces and places, and so on. The emergence of these challenges to a more traditional ‘culture-based’ Deaf identity suggest that now would be a perfect time for cultural geographers to be exploring Deaf culture… and for Deaf Studies scholars to be exploring cultural geography. Sadly, this seems to not be the case.

    The AAG next year looks like it’s shaping up to be a very interesting conference.


  • Mike Gulliver 7:52 am on September 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    A 10 year old explains Deaf geographies… But why does their teacher miss how important they are? 


    If you’ve not seen it… then go look NOW… this is the best, simplest, and coolest explanation of what Deaf Geographies are… ever.


    The fact that a 10 year-old can explain what Deaf Geographies are (without, of course, mentioning that they are Deaf geographies, demonstrates how simple they are).

    For example: 

    My Special Place

    Being in a deaf world is my special place. When I’m at home or it’s the weekend, I’m in the deaf world. But when I’m at school or at a friend’s house, I have to swap worlds and go into the hearing world.

    (Swapping worlds eh? Sounds pretty geographical to me).

    I do get asked a lot of questions like ‘How do you speak to your mum?’ I say I use sign language, or they ask “What job does your mum have?”

    I find sign language special. My sister set up a sign language club…

    View original post 463 more words

  • Mike Gulliver 7:31 am on September 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    This is a brilliant, extremely simple introduction to Deaf geographies!


  • Mike Gulliver 11:24 am on August 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Kaupapa Deaf 

    Tomorrow will see the first attempt to set up and explore a ‘Kaupapa Deaf’ space – a space of Deaf knowledge, that could be considered the valid equal of the hearing university, and that could then act as a space from which to negotiate the geographies of knowledge into and out of hearing academic structures.

    The post is at http://mikegulliver.com/2014/08/08/kaupapa-deaf/

  • Mike Gulliver 8:45 am on August 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    John Lee Clark describes his ideal DeafBlind house 

    John Lee Clark, the DeafBlind writer has written a brilliant description of his ideal house.

    There’s what you’d expect in terms of spatial design, and accessibility. But what I find most interesting immediately is the amount of knowledge that isn’t sensorially mediated.

    The idea that a space should be ‘known’ – rather than simply experienced, as if it were met for the first time, that time, every time – is an interesting challenge to the notion that spaces are produced as something that are always ‘outbound’ from a body.

    Here is a space that is both created, and known. Outbound and inbound. That is authored both in the real world, and in the mind of the person.

    It makes me think that there is more to the production of the physical than simply its being ‘secreted’ by life. It ties back into the mental landscapes in which we life, and is inhabited at both a physical and knowing level.

    One to ponder further.

    • Mike Gulliver 8:47 am on August 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on MIKE GULLIVER and commented:

      I’ve been challenged recently to think about where the built environment and landscape fit into models of the production of space. Here’s a great example of a landscape that isn’t just physical, but is also ‘known’. Thanks John Lee Clark for a brilliant essay.

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