Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India, Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India, 0813570603, 0-8135-7060-3, 978-0-8135-7060-0, 9780813570600, , , Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India, 0813570611, 0-8135-7061-1, 978-0-8135-7061-7, 9780813570617, , , Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India, 081357062X, 0-8135-7062-X, 978-0-8135-7062-4, 9780813570624, , , Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India, 0813573726, 0-8135-7372-6, 978-0-8135-7372-4, 9780813573724,
Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India

Michele Friedner
216 pages, 1 photograph, 7 figures, 6 x 9
Cloth, June 2015 $90.00   ADD TO CART
Paper, June 2015 $28.95   ADD TO CART
epub, June 2015 $28.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Subject Area:
Anthropology, Asian Studies, Disability Studies


Although it is commonly believed that deafness and disability limits a person in a variety of ways, Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India describes the two as a source of value in postcolonial India. Michele Friedner argues that the experiences of deaf people offer an important portrayal of contemporary self-making and sociality under new regimes of labor and economy in India. 
Friedner contends that deafness actually becomes a source of value for deaf Indians as they interact with nongovernmental organizations, with employers in the global information technology sector, and with the state. In contrast to previous political economic moments, deaf Indians increasingly depend less on the state for education and employment, and instead turn to novel and sometimes surprising spaces such as NGOs, multinational corporations, multilevel marketing businesses, and churches that attract deaf congregants. They also gravitate towards each other. Their social practices may be invisible to outsiders because neither the state nor their families have recognized Indian Sign Language as legitimate, but deaf Indians collectively learn sign language, which they use among themselves, and they also learn the importance of working within the structures of their communities to maximize their opportunities.  
Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India analyzes how diverse deaf people become oriented toward each other and disoriented from their families and other kinship networks. More broadly, this book explores how deafness, deaf sociality, and sign language relate to contemporary society. 


"Michele Friedner’s groundbreaking ethnography takes us on a rich, grounded journey with deaf young adults in Bangalore and shows us how they make their way through schools, vocational training, and religious worlds. From the opening scene to the last page, Friedner invites our appreciation of 'deaf gain' and how community, conviviality, kinship, value, and possibility are created."
—Faye Ginsburg, professor of anthropology, New York University

"In Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India Friedner has crafted an ethnographic monograph that is at once a compelling narrative with vivid descriptions, and a carefully researched and powerfully structured theoretical assertion of how deaf identities are multiple, global, and valuable."

"Adept at signing herself, Michele Friedner is able to move between the worlds of deaf and hearing subjects, giving the work an ethnographic depth that might not be possible to achieve otherwise … This is a pioneering work and will, I am sure, soon become part of the disability studies syllabus in many Indian universities."
—Indian Sociology

"Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India is a welcome addition to the still-sparse but growing cross-cultural collection of ethnographies addressing deafness and sign languages … Although primarily analyzing the lives and agency of deaf Indians, this book has much broader significance and is relevant for anyone exploring local responses to regional and global phenomena involving nongovernmental organizations, governmental agencies, religious organizations, multinational corporations, and multilevel marketing businesses."
—Medical Anthropology Quarterly

"From home to the world, this book takes a nuanced view of classic questions of social stigma and value, while it also reorients the discourse on development in contemporary India."
—American Anthropologist

Author / Editor Bio

MICHELE FRIEDNER is an assistant professor of health and rehabilitation sciences in the School of Health Technology and Management at Stony Brook University (SUNY), in Stony Brook, NY.

Table Of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Deaf Turns, Deaf Orientations, Deaf Development
1.    Orienting from (Bad) Family to (Good) Friends
2.    Converting to the Church of Deaf Sociality
3.    Circulation as Vocation
4.    Deaf Bodies, Corporate Bodies
5.    Enrolling Deafness in Multilevel Marketing Businesses
Conclusion: India’s Deaf Futures/Reorienting the World
Appendix: Key Concepts


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