Deafness and the Politics of Hearing

Claire Shaw

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


In 1983, the linguist, teacher and child of deaf parents Iosif Florianovich Geil’man wrote that “we live in a world of surprisingly diverse sounds. In fact, speech, music and natural sounds, which convey lasting, active information, play an exceptionally important role in the formation of an individual’s personality and his creative activity.” This article will interrogate the connection Geil’man posits between sound and selfhood by looking at the history the deaf community in the Soviet context. By focusing on how influential theorists such as Vygotskii, Pavlov, and even Stalin himself understood the “tragedy” of deafness, it will explore how Soviet ideologues conceptualized sound and speech as fundamental to human experience and development. Yet it will also consider how the deaf community engaged with and challenged such theories, framing themselves as exemplary Soviet people, and carving out pockets of Soviet silence amidst the sound and fury of logocentric Soviet culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRussian History through the Senses
Subtitle of host publicationFrom 1700 to the Present
EditorsTricia Starks, Matthew Romaniello
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4742-6314-6, 978-1-4742-6315-3
ISBN (Print)978-1-4742-6313-9, 978-1-4742-6312-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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