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Communicating the City

Meanings, Practices, Interactions


Edited By Giorgia Aiello, Matteo Tarantino and Kate Oakley

How human meanings, practices and interactions produce and are produced by urban space is the focus of this timely and exciting addition to the study of urban communication.

Challenging notions of the ‘urban’ as physically, economically or technologically determined, this book explores key intersections of discourse, materiality, technology, mobility, identity and inequality in acts of communication across urban and urbanizing contexts. From leisure and media consumption among Chinese migrant workers in a Guangdong village to the diverse networks and communication infrastructures of global cities like London and Los Angeles, this collection combines a range of perspectives to ask fundamental questions about the significance and status of cities in times of intensified mediation and connectivity.

With case studies from Italy, Britain, Ireland, Russia, the United States and China, this international collection demonstrates that both empirical and critical knowledge on the relationship between communication and urban life has become vital across the humanities and social sciences.

Communicating the City will be essential reading for all scholars and students who desire to gain an in-depth understanding of the multiple roles that media and communication have in lived experiences of the city.

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Chapter Nine: Interrogating phonocentrism in the “hearing” city: Exploring Deaf experiences (Gill Harold)


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Interrogating phonocentrism IN THE “hearing” city

Exploring Deaf experiences



When we conceive of the city, as Raban (1975) does, it is a series of spaces inviting us to play out our urban selfhood; “the city goes soft; it awaits the imprint of an identity” (pp. 9–10). Understanding Raban’s concept of the contemporary city as a “plastic” socially constructed site, where multiple identities convene, contest, and impress upon one another, we see that urban spaces and the social relations embedded therein are reproduced in the diverse images of the citizens who claim them. Tonkiss (2005) recognizes that, while the idea of public space is founded on principles of equality and access, “the exclusions which operate in real public spaces point to the limits of belonging in the city” (p. 5). This chapter seeks to demonstrate how Deaf citizens’ use of sign language represents a category of urban difference, prompting us to critically examine notions of urban citizenship and participation which are premised on hearing-centred understandings of communication as a singular and unproblematic activity. The chapter is concerned with troubling an ontological confusion of speech-as-language in an attempt to represent the influence that questions of linguistic diversity have on Deaf citizens’ everyday experience of the city. As Lefebvre (2000) sees it, language “makes everyday life, is everyday life, eludes it, disguises and conceals it, hiding it behind the ornaments of rhetoric...

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