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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A transnational approach to history brings new perspectives to nationally based historical narratives. In the case of deaf history, it uncovers new patterns of international interaction, resulting in a transnational deaf public sphere, which operated from the latter third of the nineteenth century. Through publications, travel by individual deaf people, and a series of international congresses that took place between 1873 and 1924, deaf Westerners exchanged strategies on how to live as deaf people in auditory societies. A central concern was the preservation of the right to use sign language in the face of ideologies that sought to remove this language from the education of deaf children. Deaf Westerners created transnational strategies of response to transnational ideologies of eugenics and normality. By doing so, they attempted to claim a space for “aberrant” bodies within nationalist ideologies.

Keywords: transnational, deaf, sign language, nineteenth century, Progressive Era, eugenics

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