Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 6, 2019

Deafness and Ethnic Identity: The Idea of a Deaf State and its Resonances with American Exceptionalism and Frontier Ideology

Marion Rana

Abstract

This article focuses on the nineteenth century as a pivotal time for the development of a Deaf identity in the United States and examines the way John Jacob Flournoy’s idea of a “Deaf-Mute Commonwealth” touches upon core themes of American culture studies and history. In employing pivotal democratic ideas such as egalitarianism, liberty, and self-representation as well as elements of manifest destiny such as exceptionalism and the frontier ideology in order to raise support for a Deaf State, the creation and perpetuation of a Deaf identity bears strong similarities to the processes of American nation-building. This article will show how the endeavor to found a Deaf state was indicative of the separationist and secessionist movements in the United States at that time, and remains relevant to Deaf group identity today.


Corresponding author: Dr. Marion Rana, Stiftung kreuznacher diakonie, Leben mit Behinderung, Pfarrer-Reich-Straße 1, 55566 Bad Sobernheim, Germany

Works Cited

Altschuler, Sari (2011). “‘He that Hath an Ear to Hear’: Deaf America and the Second Great Awakening.” Disability Studies Quarterly 31.1, n.pag.10.18061/dsq.v31i1.1368Search in Google Scholar

Backenroth-Ohsako, Gunnel (1999). “Multiculturalism and the Deaf Community: Examples Given from Deaf People Working in Bi-cultural Groups.” Paul Pedersen, ed. Multiculturalism as a Fourth Force. London and New York, NY: Routledge, 111–149.Search in Google Scholar

Baker-Shenk, Charlotte and Dennis Cokley (1980). American Sign Language: A Teacher’s Resource Text on Grammar and Culture. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Baynton, Douglas C. (1996). Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign against Sign Language. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.10.7208/chicago/9780226039688.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Bell, Alexander Graham (1917). Graphical Studies of Marriages of the Deaf in America. Washington, DC: Volta Bureau.Search in Google Scholar

Booth, Edmund (1858a). “Mr. Booth to Mr. Flournoy.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb X.1, 40–42.Search in Google Scholar

Booth, Edmund (1858b). “On Emigration to the West by Deaf-Mutes.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb X.1, 46–51.Search in Google Scholar

Burch, Susan (2004). Signs of Resistance: American Deaf Cultural History, 1900 to World War II. New York, NY: New York University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Callis, Lydia L. (2017). “Deaf Talent Everywhere! Part 2.“ Huffpost. 06 December. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lydia-l-callis/deaftalent-everywhere-part-ii_b_9036490.html (October 31, 2018).Search in Google Scholar

Carlin, John (1858). No Title. American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb X.2, 88–89.Search in Google Scholar

Confer, P. H. (1858). No Title. American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb X.2, 87–88.Search in Google Scholar

Dolnick, Edward (1993). “Deafness as Culture.” The Atlantic Monthly 272.3, 37–53.Search in Google Scholar

Eckert, Richard (2010). “Toward a Theory of Deaf Ethnos: Deafnicity ≈D/deaf (Hómaemon. Homóglosson. Homóthreskon).” Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 15.4, 317–333.10.1093/deafed/enq022Search in Google Scholar

Flournoy, John Jacobus (1835). “An Essay on the Origin, Habits, &c. of the African Race: Incidental to the Propriety of Having Nothing to Do with Negroes: Addressed to the Good People of the United States.” New York, NY. Available online at <http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/murray:@field(DOCID+@lit(lcrbmrpt2414div1))> (October 31, 2018).Search in Google Scholar

Flournoy, John Jacobus (1855). “Mr. Flournoy to Mr. Turner.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb VIII.2, 120–125.Search in Google Scholar

Flournoy, John Jacobus (1858a). “Mr. Flournoy to Mr. Turner.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb X.1, 42–45.Search in Google Scholar

Flournoy, John Jacobus (1858b). “Further Explanations.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb X.2, 79–84.Search in Google Scholar

Flournoy, John Jacobus (1858c). “Reply to Objections.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb X.3, 140–151.Search in Google Scholar

Joyner, Hannah (2004). From Pity to Pride: Growing Up Deaf in the Old South. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Ladd, Paddy and Harlan Lane (2013). “Deaf Ethnicity, Deafhood, and their Relationship.” Sign Language Studies 13.4, 565–579.10.1353/sls.2013.0012Search in Google Scholar

Lane, Harlan L. (2005). “Ethics and Deafness: Ethnicity, Ethics, and the Deaf-World.” Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 10.3, 291–310.10.1093/deafed/eni030Search in Google Scholar

Lane, Harlan L., Robert Hoffmeister and Benjamin J. Bahan (1996). A Journey into the Deaf World. San Diego, CA: DawnSignPress.Search in Google Scholar

Lane, Harlan, Richard C. Pillard and Ulf Hedberg (2011). The People of the Eye: Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

N.N. (2011). “Deaf Country: Mission.” Deaf Country. <http://www.deafcountry.com/?page_id=2> (July 5, 2018).Search in Google Scholar

Padden, Carol, and Tom Humphries (1988). Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture. Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Pavlenko, Aneta (2002). “‘We Have Room for but One Language Here’: Language and National Identity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.” Multilingua 21, 163–196.Search in Google Scholar

Porter, Samuel (1858). “The Plans for a Community of Deaf-Mutes: Editorial Remarks.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb X.3, 136–140.Search in Google Scholar

Rana, Marion (2018). “Deafness, Cochlear Implants, and the Right to Live as Ethnicity: Negotiations of Deaf Culture and Policy in Children’s and General Literature.” Unpublished manuscript.Search in Google Scholar

Sayers, Edna Edith (2012). Outcasts and Angels: The New Anthology of Deaf Characters in Literature. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Turner, William (1855). “Scheme for a Commonwealth of the Deaf and Dumb.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb VIII.2, 118–120.Search in Google Scholar

Van Cleve, John Vickrey and Barry A. Crouch (1989). A Place of their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2019-03-06
Published in Print: 2019-03-26

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Scroll Up Arrow