Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Paper Presentation at ASCJ: "Visualizing the Deaf in Contemporary Japan"

The Asian Studies Conference Japan will take place at J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo, June 29-30, 2013. of special interest to visual anthropologists is the following presentation:

Visualizing the Deaf in Contemporary Japan

Steven C. Fedorowicz, Kansai Gaidai University

This paper provides an ethnographic and visual description of contemporary Japanese deaf people based upon long-term research among deaf individuals and groups in Osaka, Japan. Academics describe deaf people in terms of cultural and deficit/social welfare models. The language of deaf people is similarly divided between a “true” Japanese Sign Language (JSL) and a signed version of spoken Japanese. Major deaf organizations are usually described as radical exclusive or conservative inclusive. This paper argues that these models do not work as an either/or situation but rather as also/and situations along the lines of Bakhtin’s architectonics. Deaf people live through these models simultaneously, shifting through combinations as their immediate concerns necessitate, resulting in multiple identities and various forms of language use. Real life conflicts and political debates dealing with family, friends, work, education and other social domains ensue. Japanese Deaf researchers describe this condition as a process of pluralization created by multiple groups and individuals rather than falling under the hegemony of major organizations or heuristic models. Data for this paper comes from recent classes, clinics, workshops, projects and lectures conducted by and for deaf people themselves with the goals of sharing perspectives and exploring their own place(s) in society. This paper falls under the category of visual anthropology in terms of research subjects (using a visual form of language), methods (photography and video in analysis) and presentation (photography and video accompanying text).

Sunday, June 30, 2013, 1:30 PM Session 36, J.F. Oberlin University, Machida Campus, Meimeikan Room A304

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