Mother Father Deaf: Living Between Sound and Silence

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Harvard University Press, 1994 - Social Science - 278 pages
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"Mother father deaf" is the phrase commonly used within the Deaf community to refer to hearing children of deaf parents. These children grow up between two cultures, the Hearing and the Deaf, forever balancing the worlds of sound and silence, as a sense of self and family forms. Paul Preston is one of these children, and in this book he takes us to the place where Deaf and Hearing cultures meet, where families like his own embody the conflicts and resolutions of two often opposing world views. Based on one hundred and fifty interviews with adult hearing children of deaf parents throughout the United States, Mother Father Deaf is rich in anecdote and analysis, remarkable for its insights into a family life normally closed to outsiders. Unlike others who have studied this community, focusing on pathology and family dysfunction, Preston lets a picture of hearing life among deaf parents emerge from the personal stories of those who have lived it. As they describe their family histories, their childhood memories, their sense of themselves as adults, and their life choices, these men and women chart the sometimes difficult middle ground between spoken and signed language, sameness and otherness, the stigmatizing and the stigmatized. Their stories challenge many of mainstream society's common myths and beliefs about hearing and deafness and illustrate the drama of belonging and being different as it unfolds within the self. In light of these personal narratives. Preston examines the process of assimilation and cultural affiliation among a population whose lives incorporate the paradox of being culturally "Deaf" yet functionally hearing. His book explores the culturally relative nature offamilies and the assumptions and expectations that all of us hold to be not only important but vital to our well-being as individuals and as a society.

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Interpreting Our Lives
Invisible and Profound

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About the author (1994)

Paul Preston is Principe de Asturias Professor and Director of the Canada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies at the London School of Economics. A leading historian of modern Spain, he is the author of 'Franco: A Biography, ' 'A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War, ' and 'Comrades.' He lives in London.

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