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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Sign-Deaf Spaces: The Deaf in Cape Town Creating Community, Crossing Boundaries, Constructing Identity
Author:Heap, Marion
Periodical:Anthropology Southern Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:sign languages
physically disabled
Urbanization and Migration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Health and Nutrition
Abstract:This paper examines the notion of community from the perspective of those adults in Cape Town, South Africa, who were born deaf or who became deaf as children and whose first language is South African Sign Language (SASL). It examines community as sign-'deaf' spaces. Using ethnographic evidence, the paper demonstrates sign-'deaf' spaces as networks of social relationships that comprise primarily Deaf people. These networks function to create spaces of shared sign language, familiarity, sociability and communality in an often hostile hearing world. The boundaries of the sign-'deaf' are difficult to determine. Particularly interesting is how signed language facilitates, in sociable contexts, interactions across spoken language barriers. The evidence indicates that this occurs locally as well as with Deaf people from beyond South Africa's borders. The paper suggests that sign language is a marker of Deaf identity or recognition in certain hearing contexts. But in the sign-'deaf' space it serves more to disperse identity. The paradoxical outcome is that in the sign-'deaf' space the Deaf are rarely 'deaf', certainly not in any socially handicapped or deficit way. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]