Transculturalism, affiliation and the epistemological verities of “normative identity”: Deafness and the African diaspora
Studies of identity in anthropology have recently sought to articulate a growing awareness of the multiplicity and fluidity of human identification and affiliation. This discourse addresses static frameworks that historically mire the concept of identity within an “imagined community” of uniformity, positioning group after group within a model of un-altering, ‘sameness’. Frequently lost in the re-conceptualization is the consistent archetype of the “normative” against which “groups of color” or alterity are compared/contrasted. In this project I develop a theoretical direction from which one may examine notions of identity applied to Deaf populations through ethnographic engagement with Deaf populations in the U.S. and Britain. This theoretical development is ethnographically applied to a study of Black Deaf identity and a new theory of identity that emerges. This theory specifically allows us to identify: (1) current constructions of Deaf identity predicated on White normativity. (2) the importance of Deaf institutions and organizations as collectivities of embodied agency integral in developing models of identity that reflect multiplicity or a static/hegemonic identity within which alterity is marginalized. (3) the utility of an alternate transcultural model which effectively addresses the concept of identity and its embodied complexity.
0326: Cultural anthropology