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Belonging

An Autoethnography of a Life in Sign Language

Noel O'Connell

This book weaves intensely personal and evocative stories into a layered autoethnographic text about the author’s experience of childhood deafness, sign language and education. Interwoven with the performative narrative are powerful stories of stigma, trauma, friendships, relationships, love, isolation and displacement. Using interpretative and reflective analysis, the author explores the storied experience of self and belonging in family and school contexts, providing both personal and theoretical perspectives on language and culture. He traces the pathways he has taken in pursuit of a true sense of belonging in society, community and place.

This is an important contribution to the study of sign language, deaf education, disability and deaf health and well-being. It will be of interest to professionals and practitioners working with deaf children and parents and to students and researchers within social policy, social medicine, psychology, sociology, early childhood studies and special education.

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abnormality 2, 24 acceptance 3 alienation 3, 134–138 attachment 3, 24, 139–140, 171–172 audiology audiologists 2, 16, 28–29, 42 labels 4 service 28–29 testing 16, 28–29 autobiography 169 autoethnography “auto” 1, 9, 170 “autoethnographic sketching” 139 construction of 1, 9, 10, 25–26, 70 definition of 1, 2, 9, 10 emotions 10, 23 evocative 1–2, 9–10, 25, 77–78 layered narrative 103–104 personal stories 1, 13–23 purpose of 9, 70 storytelling 69 back story 27–30 behind the teacher’s back 143–166 belonging attachment 3, 139–140 context 3, 139–141 definition of 3, 139–141, 171–172 Benjamin, Walter 13 birth 28 “body remembered” 23 Catholic Church 31–32, 121 Catholic Institute for Deaf People 33–34, 36, 42 Catholic religion and sacraments 20, 31–33, 96–97, 120–121 Catholic school(s) 31–40 child abuse emotional 22, 62–66, 104–108 physical 22, 62–66, 104–108 sexual 104, 104–108, 121 childhood divided 1 interrupted 13–23 in the summer 123–141 trauma 22 Christian Brothers 34, 38–40, 44–46, 78–79 Claremont Institute 32–33, 37 classroom cultural encounters in 80–92; 99–101, 161–163 as “cultural space” 143 Clonmel, County Tipperary 16, 28, 124 Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) 50 communication 2, 101, 129–130 family 2–3, 14–15 Conama, John Bosco 8 contact zone(s) 161–163 Crean, Edward 169 Darwin, Charles Origin of the Species 75 Daughters...

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