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Missionaries

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

As Northern European economic powers spread globally in the 19th century, European missionaries traveled abroad, bringing their Western ideas, religious beliefs, and customs to lower-income countries in the global South. Aiming to convert those who had not yet heard the word of God and to “care for the poor,” their mission work was evangelical and charitable. In the New Testament of the Bible (Mark 7:31–37), Jesus “heals” a man of his deafness so he can hear and speak. This passage has formed the biblical foundation through which Christians have ministered to deaf people. Grouping the deaf together with the sick, disabled, and elderly, missionaries aimed to care for deaf people by curing their deafness and teaching them to speak. Since most societies marginalized their deaf ...

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