When I’m not in the middle of a job transition and cross-state move, there are some things I’d like to sit down and read.

Honestly, I can’t read everything as deeply as I’d like to (which still pains me to admit). I need to drop some things, skim others, and accept that I’ll never spend quality time with most of the things I want to curl up with… there’s not enough time. But in any case, things (again, so I can get these out of my head and off my desktop for a while…)

Liesbeth Matthijs did work on parental choice in the context of hearing parents of deaf children. I think this concept can also be applied to the communication choices of deaf adults in culturally hearing (or even deaf) environments. At RIT, we talk a lot about people having “communication preferences,” but we rarely interrogate where these preferences might come from, or what they might be (or have been) influenced by.

By what and whom are these “preferences” and “choices” shaped? How are they positioned? What is the landscape of options available, and what costs and tradeoffs come with each? Put another way: if you threaten to not admit me if I choose to sign, it is still my choice whether to sign or not… but we can’t deny that choice of mine is shaped (really, constructed) by that threat.

The blog post summarizes that “By investigating the ideologies supporting intervention services and demonstrating that service providers mainly think and speak in terms of normalization but also listen from within these terms, Liesbeth demonstrates how the system does not accomodate parental positions that are resistant to normalization.” The same thing could be said for the choices of adult deaf signers – or in fact (and broadening to my own scope of work), the choices of anyone who’s trying to live and learn in a way that is not in conformity with the “norms” of their surrounding culture.

Next is the qualitative methodology paper written by the Deaf Yes! team, headed by Melissa Anderson and Tim Riker, and featuring a team of Deaf researchers (who were also my first stunned exposure as a new-signer to the concept of a research team that used something other than spoken language). I love so much of their approach from what I’ve seen of it – analyzing from the video data instead of transcribing and analyzing an English translation; producing short vlogs to share their results with the local Deaf community, holding community events and forums and doing so much of their work in ways that felt so appropriately enculturated and entirely respectful…

…okay, so the research project itself was about how to do research with Deaf participants (specifically through the lens of IRB), so it would be strange if it did not take its own advice. But it just seems to me to have been done so well that I’ve been waiting for some of it to be published, and so this is one I do feel like I want to read and then thoughtfully reply to, so I can engage it in some of my own work.

Via Todd, a book that examines the notion of software as a material, which is the kind of ontological twist I adore. Brittleness has resonance to me not only from direct experience as a software engineer, but also as a concept that might be handy to put into play as someone who looks at upheaval, change, and reinvention of cultures.

If I can make it through this book on Data Feminism before January 7, I can get comments in before the review period closes. My old friend Lauren Klein is one of the two authors, and I am so looking forward to seeing this work and joining her conversations about it in Atlanta soon.

Finally, Jon Henner and Octavian Robinson are at it again in Cripping the University – I’m just gonna put this here…

“In this article, we examine how universities have profited from ASL while denying opportunities to deaf students and academics. We also explore ways that universities use ASL classes to further marginalize deaf academics. While cripping the university and having deaf leadership is fundamentally good for how universities engage with deaf scholars, if universities use the premise of cripping to force deaf scholars into limited roles within a narrow interpretation of the cripping paradigm, then cripping becomes weaponized against deaf scholars.”

Yes yes yes yes, yes. Yes yes yes. There’s so much here to respond to (not least the notion of cripping the university, or the being placed into tiny convenient boxes, or being shut in by molar identities, or…) but one obvious point (and not a new one) is the notion that wcannot profit from marginalized communities without problematizing exactly that, and finding ways to make that “profit” benefit them; anything else is exploitative. (Anthropologists have been grappling with this for years – the (typically white and western) academic building a career from the stories a community generously shared with them… what is the relationship, what is the obligation to give back?

And even for someone like me, who is a member within some of these communities (or at least Deaf within the Deaf one, but also a woman in the women-in-STEM camp, POC, non-neurotypical, etc.) – what do I do with my relative (tremendous!) privilege as someone highly educated and financially stable? But that’s a post all of its own.