Many Deaf households were enmeshed in a Deaf kinship network. Marriage with a person of one's own kind in an environment of otherness creates a heightened consciousness of shared identity and destiny. Deaf ethnicity is an upward projection of family, of language, and of cultural rules and values. An intermediate stage between Deaf family and Deaf ethnicity is intermarriage across Deaf families, forming larger Deaf clans. Three factors contributed mightily to Deaf solidarity: marriage between Deaf people, marriage between relatives, and de novo creation of Deaf ethnicity. Abetted by institutions such as the American Asylum, the New England Gallaudet Association and the Deaf-Mute Mission, the Deaf of southern New Hampshire and Maine came to see themselves as a class apart from the hearing world, a group with its own distinctive language, culture, and physical makeup. This chapter considers the possible consequences for the Deaf were they to embrace an ethnic classification.
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