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The People of the EyeDeaf Ethnicity and Ancestry$
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Harlan Lane, Richard C. Pillard, and Ulf Hedberg

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759293

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759293.001.0001

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The People of the Eye

Harlan Lane (Contributor Webpage)

Richard C. Pillard

Ulf Hedberg (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   Deaf kinship network, New England Gallaudet Assn, Deaf-Mute Mission, ethnic classification

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