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Deaf Theory

  • By: M.J. Bienvenu
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Deaf is frequently defined as “loss of hearing” or “lack of the sense of hearing.” As a result, people not familiar with the Deafworld often assume “deaf” refers to nothing more than an inability to hear. Yet, as Deaf activism, cultural production, and scholarship reveals, Deaf is neither a deficit-based concept nor can it be easily reduced to a fixed, and stable experience. Like so many other identity-based categories, Deaf is a complex, fluid, and contestable concept. Deaf, in all its complexity, is at the center of a growing body of texts that can be grouped under the category of Deaf theory.

From Hearing Ideology to Deaf Theory

To understand Deaf theory, it is useful to distinguish between ideology and theory. By definition, ideology is “the body ...

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