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My Mother Made Me Deaf: Discourse and Identity in a Deaf Community
by Bryan K. Eldredge
Gallaudet University Press, 2017
Cloth: 978-1-56368-687-0 | eISBN: 978-1-56368-688-7
Library of Congress Classification HV2545.E43 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.9082

The term deaf often sparks heated debates about authority and authenticity. The concept of Deaf identity and affiliation with the DEAF-WORLD are constantly negotiated social constructions that rely heavily on the use of American Sign Language. However, given the incredible diversity of Deaf people, these constructions vary widely. From Deaf people born into culturally Deaf families and who have used ASL since birth, to those born into hearing families and for whom ASL is a secondary language (if they use it at all), to hearing children of Deaf adults whose first language is ASL, and beyond, the criteria for membership in the Deaf community is based on a variety of factors and perspectives.
       Bryan K. Eldredge seeks to more precisely understand the relationship between ASL use and Deaf identity using the tools of linguistic anthropology. In this work, he presents research resulting from fieldwork with the Deaf community of Utah Valley. Through informal interactions and formal interviews, he explores the role of discourse in the projection and construction of Deaf identities and, conversely, considers how ideas about language affect the discourse that shapes identities. He finds that specific linguistic ideologies exist that valorize some forms of language over others and that certain forms of ASL serve to establish a culturally Deaf identity. My Mother Made Me Deaf demonstrates that the DEAF-WORLD consists of a multitude of experiences and ways of being even as it is bound together by certain essential elements that are common to Deaf people. 

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