Deaf Mobility Studies

Exploring International Networks, Tourism, and Migration

By Annelies Kusters, Erin Moriarty, Amandine le Maire, Sanchayeeta Iyer, and Steven Emery

Categories: Anthropology, Linguistics
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Hardcover : 9781954622289, 374 pages, June 2024
Ebook : 9781954622296, 374 pages, June 2024
Paperback : 9781954622319, 374 pages, June 2024
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Examines the global lives of deaf people, crafted by five deaf ethnographers.


Birthing a Genre: Deaf Ethnographic Film



Deaf Mobility Studies revolutionizes how we think about deaf people’s international experiences. Equipped with a common theoretical framework, a team of five deaf ethnographers journeyed alongside their participants to delve into a rich array of experiences — ranging from career advancements and marriages to tourism and the challenges faced by deaf refugees. The authors present their findings within the framework of Deaf Mobility Studies, which brings together the transdisciplinary fields of Deaf Studies and Mobility Studies. Far from taking 'deaf cosmopolitanism' as a given, this work scrutinizes it as a multifaceted phenomenon to be both affirmed and questioned. Themes that emerge include how deaf people seek spaces of belonging, engage in languaging, expand their networks, and experience immobility.

The text is augmented by direct links to clips in nine ethnographic films, analysis of selected film excerpts and screenshots, and compelling data visualizations. QR codes throughout the book link to the film clips to create this dual narrative experience. Deaf Mobility Studies is an expansive odyssey through the complexities and opportunities inherent in deaf international mobility.


Annelies Kusters is Professor of Sociolinguistics at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK. She led the project "Deaf Mobilities Across International Borders: Visualizing Intersectionality and Translanguaging" (MobileDeaf) from 2017 to 2023, funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant. Fueled by her passion for ethnographic research, she has conducted extensive fieldwork across various locations such as Suriname, Ghana, India, the United Kingdom, and numerous international deaf events and workplaces since 2004.

Erin Moriarty is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia and an honorary research fellow at Heriot-Watt University. Her research interests include linguistic ethnography, translanguaging, language ideologies, deaf mobilities, the deaf ecosystem, affect and the senses, and moral orientations. Moriarty recently received an award from the NEH to reimagine Deaf Studies for the future and wrapped up a 5-year ethnography on deaf tourism.

Amandine le Maire is a PhD candidate at Heriot-Watt University on the topic of the lived experiences of deaf refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp. She holds a master’s degree in Anthropology from Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, where she is currently a lecturer. Her research interests encompass the concept of deaf space and the relocation and displacement experiences of deaf people. Previously, she explored family relocations within Belgium, revealing multifaceted motives, including the presence of a bilingual deaf school.

Sanchayeeta Iyer is a PhD candidate at Heriot-Watt University, where she is studying the experiences of deaf Indian female migrants in London. Previously, she worked for the Deaf Ethnic Women’s Association in London. She holds an MSc in Children, Youth, and International Development from London’s Birkbeck College. Her interest in international development has led to volunteer work in the Philippines and to serve as a trustee for an organization that supports deaf people in Burundi and Rwanda.

Steven Emery has been working in numerous roles with British Sign Language and international deaf signers for over 30 years. He holds a PhD from the University of Central Lancashire, and soon after started a post-doctorate on minority group rights at the University of Bristol. He has lectured and conducted research at many universities, most notably Heriot-Watt University. His research and publications focus on a deaf diaspora, the ethics of genetic counselling, international deaf protest, and minority group rights. His most recent project is on radical signs.