Being “different” shouldn’t be “damning.” However, in Damned for Their Difference, Jan Branson and Don Miller reveal that, until the recent recognition of Deaf culture and the legitimacy of signed languages, the hearing majority societies around the world believed otherwise.
Until the recent recognition of Deaf culture and the legitimacy of signed languages, majority societies around the world have classified Deaf people as “disabled,” a term that separates all persons so designated from the mainstream in a disparaging way. Damned for Their Difference offers a well-founded explanation of how this discrimination came to be through a discursive exploration of the cultural, social, and historical contexts of these attitudes and behavior toward deaf people, especially in Great Britain.
Authors Jan Branson and Don Miller examine the orientation toward and treatment of deaf people as it developed from the 17th century through the 20th century. Their wide-ranging study explores the varied constructions of the definition of “disabled,” a term whose meaning hinges upon constant negotiation between parties, ensuring that no finite meaning is ever established. Damned for Their Difference provides a sociological understanding of disabling practices in a way that has never been seen before.
Jan Branson is a former director of the National Institute for Deaf Studies and Sign Language Research at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Don Miller is a former head of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Monash University in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.