Shifra Kisch analyses the social consequences of deafness and the sociolinguistic context of signing among the Negev Bedouin, the native Arab inhabitants of the southern arid region of present-day Israel.
The consequences of deafness vary considerably between different Bedouin groups as well as along gender lines. The emergence of a local sign language, in several Bedouin groups with exceptionally high rates of deafness, account for significant differences in the experience of deafness by both deaf and hearing, exposed to visual language from an early age.
Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork this study introduces the notion of a shared signing community, emphasizing the unique sociolinguistic circumstances where deaf and hearing alike participate in signed communication and share knowledge grounded in daily experiences and practices related to deafness and signing.
Despite general neglect and discrimination of the Negev Bedouin, deafness became the target of diverse state services and interventions. This study discloses unintended consequences of such interventions; introducing stigmatizing narratives and creating differential life trajectories that reduce the social space shared by deaf and hearing.
Shifra Kisch, Deafness among the Negev Bedouin: an Interdisciplinary Dialogue on Deafness, Marginality and Context, Supervisors: Prof. Annelies Moors and Prof. Anita Hardon