It's a Small World

International Deaf Spaces and Encounters

Edited by Michele Friedner & Annelies Kusters

Categories: Anthropology
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Paperback : 9781944838751, 336 pages, July 2020
Ebook : 9781563686535, 336 pages, December 2015
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This interdisciplinary volume profiles the multiple intersections that occur between nationalities, cultures, languages, religions, races, genders, and identities.



It’s a Small World explores the fascinating and, at times, controversial concept of DEAF-SAME (“I am deaf, you are deaf, and so we are the same”) and its influence on deaf spaces locally and globally. The editors and contributors focus on national and international encounters (e.g., conferences, sporting events, arts festivals, camps) and the role of political/economic power structures on deaf lives and the creation of deaf worlds. They also consider important questions about how deaf people negotiate DEAF-SAME and deaf difference, with particular attention to relations between deaf people in the global South (countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with access to fewer resources than other countries) and the global North (countries in Europe, along with Canada, the US, Australia, and several other nations with access to and often control of resources).         Editors Michele Friedner and Annelies Kusters and their contributors represent a variety of academic and professional fields, from anthropology and linguistics to cultural and religious studies. Each chapter in this original volume highlights a new perspective on the multiple intersections that occur between nationalities, cultures, languages, religions, races, genders, and identities. The text is organized into five sections—Gatherings, Language, Projects, Networks, and Visions. Taken all together, the 23 chapters in this book provide an understanding of how sameness and difference are powerful yet contested categories in deaf worlds.


Michele Friedner is an assistant professor of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Stony Brook University.

Annelies Kusters is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany. 



"One of the book’s greatest strengths is its juxtaposition of local events with global diasporas, which allows for discussion of the complexity and varied nature of deaf worlds. With themes ranging from “small spaces” such as festivals and youth camps to the creation of global communities among individuals who identify as Deaf Jews, the volume succeeds in illuminating the significant role of the deaf in the global community while not overlooking the importance of fleeting experiences."


"This volume is a fascinating expansion of research dealing with encounters of deaf people worldwide."

— Journal of Anthropological Research

"The writings in Friedner and Kusters’ collection are of uniformly high quality, deeply relevant, and will be enjoyed by scholars, practitioners, and members of deaf and disability communities."

— Disability & Society

"Friedner and Kusters put together a smart interdisciplinary anthology useful for any undergraduate or graduate course on Deaf Studies. Beyond Deaf Studies, this book has relevance across disciplines exploring questions of transnationalism, internationalism, globalization, circulation, and testing the meaning of boundaries, identities, and contexts."

— Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education