RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016

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156 Deaf spaces, old and new: community, heritage sector, and academic approaches to deaf heritage spaces
Affiliation Historical Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Mike Gulliver (University of Bristol, UK)
John Lyons (University of Bristol, UK)
Chair(s) Mike Gulliver (University of Bristol, UK)
Timetable Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Session abstract Deaf heritage environments are those that have historically hosted a community that communicates and engages with the world primarily through sight. E.g.: deaf schools, churches, clubs or family homes. Whether built bespoke, or simply produced as spaces for visual interaction, they are heartlands of deaf culture; birthplaces of sign languages; and their architecture and design, artefacts of our environmental management of human sensory capabilities. And yet deaf heritage remains underexplored and the learning opportunity that it offers, untapped. Indeed, it is positively under threat. Perhaps because it has become normal for society to see deafness as a disability that is progressively being overcome, deaf heritage buildings are discarded without any great concern for the value of the history of the community that once inhabited them, or the unique nature of their architecture, or the preservation and management of an archive. Urgent interventions by campaigners and heritage organisations have allowed the listing of some unique buildings. Research by historians and geographers are producing a deeper understanding of their spaces, and how these speak to the wider hearing world. The resources mobilised to engage with these heritage environments are, however, entirely inadequate to keep up with the speed at which they are being lost. This session draws on the expertise of academics working on both deaf history and deaf architectural heritage, deaf community historians, and heritage organisations to ask what deaf heritage is, why it is so poorly recognised and understood, what it is like to work on deaf heritage, and to ask what can be done to ensure that the places that have housed the deaf community’s uniquely visual humanity might remain available to inform our understanding of human diversity for generations to come.
Linked Sessions Deaf spaces of Victorian London – a walking tour
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Panel Discussion: Deaf spaces, old and new: community, heritage sector, and academic approaches to deaf heritage spaces
Mike Gulliver (University of Bristol, UK)
John Lyons (University of Bristol, UK)
Linda Monckton (Historic England, UK)
Gemma Shannahan (University of Bristol, UK)
Norma McGilp (Independent Deaf Community Historian)
Panel Discussion