A03


Plenary: The birth of a genre: Re-framing language in deaf ethnographic film 
Convenors:
Annelies Kusters (Heriot-Watt University)
Erin Moriarty (Gallaudet University)
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Chair:
Faye Ginsburg (New York University)
Format :
Plenary
Start time:
8 March, 2023 at
Time zone: Europe/London
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

BSL/English Interpreting and Translation will be provided. In this presentation we reflect on how we as deaf ethnographers have made films. We re-frame language in ethnographic film in terms of sign language-centred cinematography and in terms of capturing deaf practices of “calibration” (languaging) and related language ideologies.

Long Abstract:

While deaf filmmaking as a profession has grown exponentially in the previous two decades, deaf ethnographic filmmaking led by deaf researchers and rooted in anthropological field work is relatively new. Most existing ethnographic films involving deaf people are made by hearing filmmakers, often showing “outsider” perspectives on deaf lives. In this presentation we reflect on how we as deaf ethnographers have made films, and more specifically on how language and communication is (re-)framed in these films. We re-frame language in ethnographic film in terms of sign language-centred cinematography and in terms of capturing deaf practices of “calibration” (languaging) and related language ideologies. We will show excerpts of several films. The first, Ishaare: Gestures and Signs in Mumbai, is an ethnographic film about deaf-hearing communication in an urban setting in India. The other films, #deaftravel: Deaf tourism in Bali (recorded in Indonesia) and the six-part film series This is IS (recorded in Denmark, Brazil, Kenya, France and Italy) were created within the MobileDeaf project on international deaf mobilities (https://mobiledeaf.org.uk). The researchers, editors and the camera crew involved in all the films are deaf signers from various countries who use different sign languages, leading to a unique moment where the precepts of deaf ethnographic filmmaking are emerging in multilingual and transnational contexts. The encounters between deaf protagonists, researchers and filmmakers with diverse privileges and lack thereof resulted in approaches to ethnographic filmmaking that explored but also critically interrogated deaf cosmopolitanism.