Call for Papers: Intersecting Geographical Imaginations - Social Geography and Deaf Studies

Call for Papers
RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2011
Location: RGS-IBG London
Date: August 31st  September 2nd 2011
Conference Theme: Geographical Imaginations

Session Title: 
Intersecting Geographical Imaginations: Social Geography and Deaf Studies

Acknowledging notable exceptions such as of the work of Valentine and
Skelton (2003 and 2007) and Batterbury et al. (2007), social geography has
largely yet to engage in an evolved dialogue with Deaf Studies. This is
surprising, as at the intersection of human, social, cultural geographies
and Deaf Studies we find exciting potential to think about spatiality,
language, citizenship, education, and identity, as well as a myriad of
further themes of interest to the social geographer, in new ways. From
within Deaf Studies, for example, Emery has pertinently identified Œ...the
ways in which Deaf citizens are excluded from citizenship, namely, due to
citizenship being phonocentric, [and] social policy being audist¹ (2009:
42). Engaging with such discourses can lead to a broadening of the
geographical imagination by highlighting the subtle biases with which our
research and philosophical perspectives can become, often unknowingly,

Academic discourses around d/Deafness have served to perpetuate
constructions of the Deaf figure as Œother¹ in social thought. Perceived as
a markedly different identity, considerations of d/Deafness have been
disproportionately informed by a disability-led understanding, which has
undermined and critically neglected the understanding of Deaf
culturo-linguistic identity. As Obasi posits; Œ[t]he myopia of this
perspective prevents us from looking beyond audiology to see the fuller
picture of visual and linguistic plenitude identified from within Deaf
cultural theorizing¹ (Obasi, 2008: 458). Using these lenses, we begin to
deconstruct traditional discourses around the social construction of place.
Critical perspectives from scholarly work in both Deaf studies and social
geography will contest and negotiate the threshold existing at the interface
of both disciplines.

We invite contributions from those whose work intertwines with the themes
and concepts detailed here, as well as related trajectories. The overall
aims of the session are
- to draw focus to discourses that are of shared mutual interest to
social geography and Deaf Studies;
- to revisit, deconstruct, challenge and destabilise hitherto accepted
ideologies in light of this engagement;
- to generate and develop understandings of how such inter-disciplinary
conversations can enrich both.
In doing so, this session seeks to overturn audist perspectives and present
new opportunities to rethink identity and conceptualise space as shaped by
the mosaic of difference.

Abstracts for papers should be 200-250 words in length. Please forward your
submissions and any queries to the session organisers:

Gill Harold, University College Cork (
Mary Beth Kitzel, University of Sussex (

Closing date for submissions: Tuesday 15th February 2011

Batterbury, S.C.E. et al, (2007) ŒSign Language Peoples as indigenous
minorities: implications for research and policy.¹ Environment and Planning
A 39: 2899-2915. 
Emery, S.D. (February 2009) ŒIn space no one can see you waving your hands:
making citizenship meaningful to Deaf worlds.¹ Citizenship Studies 13(1):
Obasi, C. (Fall 2008) ŒSeeing the Deaf in ³Deafness².¹ Journal of Deaf
Studies and Deaf Education 13(4):455-465.
Skelton, T. and Valentine, G. (2003) Œ ŒIt feels like being Deaf is normal¹:
an exploration into the complexities of defining D/deafness and young D/deaf
people¹s identities¹ The Canadian Geographer, 47 (4): 451-466.
Valentine, G. and Skelton, T. (2003) 'Living on the edge: the
marginalisation and 'resistance' of D/deaf youth'. Environment and Planning
A, 35: 301-321.
Valentine, G. and Skelton, T. (2007) ŒThe right to be heard: Citizenship and
language¹, Political Geography, 26: 121-140.

Mary E. Kitzel
DPhil Candidate/Associate Tutor
Department of Geography
Arts C329
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9SJ

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