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Signing and Belonging in Nepal (Hardcover)
In this book, Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway presents an accessible examination of deafness in Nepal. As a linguistic anthropologist, she describes the emergence of Nepali Sign Language and deaf sociality in the social and historical context of Nepal during the last decades before the Hindu Kingdom became a secular republic. She then shows how the adoption of an ethno-linguistic model interacted with the ritual pollution model, or the prior notion that deafness results from bad karma. Her focus is on the impact of these competing and co-existing understandings of deafness on three groups: signers who adopted deafness as an ethnic identity, homesigners whose ability to adopt that identity is hindered by their difficulties in acquiring Nepali Sign Language, and hearing Nepalis who interact with Deaf signers. Comparing these contexts demonstrates that both the ethno-linguistic model and the ritual pollution model, its seeming foil, draw on the same basic premise: that both persons and larger social formations are mutually constituted through interaction. Signing and Belonging in Nepal is an ethnography that studies a rich and unique Deaf culture while also contributing to larger discussions about social reproduction and social change.
— HIMALAYA, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies
"Signing and Belonging in Nepal is a touching and authentic reflection on the often-unexpected nuance in the ways deaf people work within particular cultural milieus to find one another, organize, and advocate for their unique status as a community...The detailed contextualization and analysis of the sociopolitical frameworks of deafness and Nepali Sign Language presented in this book will be of great interest to scholars from an array of fields. Readers, educators, and students in medical anthropology, disabilities studies, and linguistics alike will recognize the anthropological influence in the undercurrent propelling the book: the illustration of how ethnolinguistic frameworks of deafness have different ‘meanings and consequences’ within and across cultural contexts."
"Signing and Belonging in Nepal presents an insightful examination of what deafness means in the cultural, linguistic, political, religious, geographic, and social contexts of Nepal. This book is extremely engaging and readable and presents many interesting accounts of what deafness means in Nepal."
— Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
"Hoffmann-Dilloway effectively outlines her arguments and nicely introduces theories of language and social categories for the introductory reader. This is a welcome addition to the anthropology of deaf people, especially those who live in the Global South."
— Sign Language Studies
"Hoffmann-Dilloway’s ethnography is an inspirational example of an ethnography of language and society that is as accessible and honest as it is illuminating. Her casual register may serve as a departure from the genre, but the aspiring readers who are its target audience will find it a welcoming introduction to linguistic anthropology."
— Himalayan Linguistics
"Hoffmann-Dilloway’s book signals the beginning of a comprehensive scholarship that focuses on deaf people, signed languages, and signing communities in contemporary Nepal through not just one lens, but several lens from different angles."
— Journal of Linguistic Anthropology