Deaf Right to the City


The brilliant Gill Harold has a forthcoming article that describes the sound-centric nature of urban spaces. I am reposting the title and abstract below so you get a flavor of the article. Importantly, Gill’s article is published in one of the highest-ranked journals in our profession, which means that – yes – you can get great research on Deaf geographies published and recognized.

Reconsidering sound and the city: asserting the right to the Deaf-friendly city

Abstract: The sensory turn has made a pronounced attempt to broaden the focus in social and cultural geography to encompass the entire sensory spectrum, with the aim of counterbalancing what is perceived to have been the disproportionate attention granted to visual geographies and the act of seeing. In respect of critically understanding the geographies of difference that characterise Deaf citizens’ experience in the contemporary city, this paper calls for a moment in geography to take stock of the signature that visual awareness bears in the social life of the Deaf city, and also to consider the hearingness implicit in geographical commentary on the role of sound in the reproduction of place. Reading urban and public spaces from a Deaf-centred perspective, I draw on parallel discussions from social geography and Deaf Studies to critically deconstruct the phenomena underpinning the aural bias that is deeply embedded in the social fabric, and which finds continuous expression in the intangible aural architectures of modern life. Dispositions and attitudes towards the ‘normal’ hearing body and towards hearing ontological engagements with sound and speech serve to maintain the city’s audist and phonocentric inclinations. Here, the manner in which the right to the Deaf-friendly city is jeopardised is made explicit through empirical accounts from Deaf people in Ireland and England whose everyday geographies are characterised by the negotiation of urban spaces that were designed according to the needs of an assumed homogenous hearing public.

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