University of Sussex
Walker, John David.pdf (173.63 MB)

The Deaf community of Brighton and Hove and the performance of cultural capital: self, body and landscape

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posted on 2023-06-10, 04:16 authored by John WalkerJohn Walker
This thesis represents the first attempt to map the cultural geographies of a Deaf community. Focused on Brighton and Hove, it is an epistemological inquiry, employing a mixed method approach, including photo elicitation, a happiness survey, sketch maps of cultural landmarks and interviews. Each method is used to help map the range of performative actions and representations that characterise the Deaf community in the city. The cultural geography of the Deaf community is framed by the concept of Deafhood, a poststructuralist rendering of Deaf identity which is focused in part, on representations emerging from, held and performed by this community. I investigated the Cultural Crown’s (people who have access to the community’s cultural capital) understanding of material and non-material cultures that represent the Deaf community. I identified the demographics of this community and their use of different physical, amorphous and existential spaces. I mapped locations, movements, networks, and identified sites of ‘home’ across different social strata. I analysed a survey of happiness and kindness that converged and diverged from the Cultural Crown representations and revealed a stratified community of different cultural competence facilitated by language ability. I visualised the locations, routes and boundary liminality around and beyond the city, which posits deaf people in different senses of self. I perceptively conceive the Deaf community as a diaspora, whereby its members yearn for a perceived ‘home’, performed through micro and preconscious actions of ‘home-creation’, manifested differently across each stratum but achieving the same aim, and ranging from Deaf club visits in a convivial neighbourhood with permanency and regularity to an ephemeral international Deaf village of multicultural encounters. As a member of the city’s Deaf community, I place myself within this thesis as both the observer and the observed, and reimagine the data through an impressionist survey. The cultural geography of this community presented in this thesis is formed through the use of its language, sign language, to facilitate a cultural map of interconnected routes from neighbourhoods to international conventions; a cultural capital that is often misunderstood in a phonocentric world.


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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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