Deaf Studies Lecture Series: June 2018

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June 14, 2018 @ 1:00 PM – 2:45 PM
Van Wijkplaats 2, Room 002
2311 BX Leiden
Leiden Deaf Studies

NOTE: Please note that this lecture will start at 13:00hrs sharp (i.e. 15 minutes earlier than the usual lectures).

Presenters: Paul van Trigt & Anja Hiddinga

Dutch Sign Language interpreters will be present.

Signing Human Rights. An Exploratory History of Deaf Internationalism since the 1970s



Paul van Trigt, Leiden University


With the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2006, disability can no longer be ignored as an issue of human rights and international law. Within the field Disability Studies the human rights perspective on disability is already established, but outside that field this is hardly the case. Therefore my paper will analyze the trajectory to the UNCRPD without the assumption that a human rights perspective on disability is self-evident. On the contrary, I will ‘follow’ the concept of human rights in the United Nations disability policy since the 1970s and argue that there was no linear trajectory towards the UNCRPD. Additionaly, in order to investigate the impact of this global policy on the local level and to understand the relation between measures that have been undertaken globally and nationally to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, I will investigate how human rights as framed by the UN were implemented and translated (or not) in the Dutch case. Moreover, in presenting these histories I will focus in particular on the question how Deaf self advocacy organizations were involved in the UN policies on a global and local level and how they dealt with possible hesitations with the concept disability.


Practices of Belonging: Claiming Deafness in Elderly Care



Anja Hiddinga, University of Amsterdam (UvA)


The Gelderhorst, a centre for elderly Deaf people in The Netherlands, claims special resources on the basis of their potential residents’ non-hearing (a biological marker) and need of intensive elderly care. Yet the resources generated from these biological claims are used to promote a particular type of institutional sociality, which focuses on Deaf culture: a concept resisting medical definitions and based instead on language and Deaf identity. In interviews with those on the waiting list of the centre, however, multiple versions of Deafness emerge, as people grapple with categorizations based on, for example age, hearing, or sexuality. At the same time, people on the wait list present a great diversity in language skills. Aware that biological deafness alone won’t legitimize residency, some learn to sign in order to ‘enact’ a Deafness that constitutes belonging in the Gelderhorst. Here we see a stark tension between bodily and verbal narratives where bodies are performed through varied practices of deafness. Not being deaf, but doing deafness shapes a political subjectivity that gives access to particular resources, rights and elderly care. In this presentation, I will focus on one particular case, analyzing some of the complexity in which deaf bodies are shaped and modified in order to claim certain rights.