Establishing Boundaries: Claims to Authority and Knowledge

  • 03 May 2016
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Sumner School (1201 17th St NW)


Registration is closed

Establishing Boundaries: Claims to Authority and Knowledge

WAPA's last event of the year will be a very special presentation by anthropologists sharing their experiences working among deaf communities in international development with examples from Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and the United States.

Panelists: Dr. Audrey C. Cooper, Erin Moriarty Harrelson, Dr. Julie A. Hochgesang, Dr. Jessica C. Lee, and Dr. Khadijat Rashid

Language of Presentation: American Sign Language with interpretation into English

Date: Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Time: 7:00 pm -9:00 pm
Location: Sumner School


MEETING RSVP:  The presentation will be in American Sign Language (ASL) with interpreters. Due to limited seating, please click here to register if you are planning to attend the meeting at Sumner School.

Unfortunately, there are no more spaces for the dinner at Duke's Grocery.


Detail:  This panel will discuss various claims to authority and knowledge, the ethical considerations involved with representation of deaf communities, and the purpose of research in deaf communities. Panelists will share their experiences with and observations of political and practical issues arising in and between deaf groups or 'communities', deaf groups and academic researchers, and deaf groups and development. Panelists will discuss case examples from Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and the United States to illustrate the technologies of ownership used to claim authority and knowledge.

Participant Bios:

Dr. Audrey C. Cooper is the Program Director for the Masters Program in International Development at Gallaudet University. A cultural and linguistic anthropologist, her research examines relationships between signed language usage, social and political-economic change in contemporary Viet Nam. From 2012 to 2014 Cooper worked as an international trainer for World Concern Development Organization’s Intergenerational Deaf Education Outreach Project--Vietnam. Recent publications examine the rise of ASL-based tourism in Viet Nam and responses by Deaf community organizers, and with Nguyen Tran Thuy Tien, collaboration between Vietnamese Deaf community organizers and language researchers and related changes in language attitudes, particularly among deaf education special school personnel. Cooper is also a co-author and co-editor, with Khadijat Rashid of, Citizenship, Politics, Difference: Perspectives from Sub-Saharan Signed Language Communities.

Erin Moriarty Harrelson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at American University. Her research interests include deaf people and sign language in Cambodia, humanitarianism, development and NGOs. Her dissertation focuses on the documentation of Cambodian Sign Language as a Deaf community development initiative and development projects for deaf people in Cambodia. In 2014, Moriarty Harrelson was chosen as one of the first Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows. She was one of five grantees selected from among 864 applicants for the fellowship, which is the first of its kind. As a 2014-2015 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, she lived in and traveled throughout Cambodia documenting the various experiences of deaf people. Moriarty Harrelson is also a recipient of the 2014 American University Doctoral Student Research Award.

Dr. Julie A. Hochgesang is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics at Gallaudet University. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya from 2002-2004, teaching during these two years at a school for the deaf on the coast; and also worked with the Kenyan deaf community in developing a CD dictionary of Kenyan Sign Language.  Her dissertation focused on evaluating the representativeness of different notation systems for signed languages. Her research specializations include phonetics/phonology of signed languages, acquisition of signed languages and documentary linguistics (of signed languages). Documentary linguistics includes research with signed language corpora and fieldwork in other signed language communities.

Dr. Jessica C. Lee is currently a Team Lead at Dexis Consulting running a Monitoring and Evaluation program in State Department's Bureau of African Affairs.  She is an adjunct faculty at Gallaudet University.  Dr. Lee's research specializes in community and identity formation, NGOs, and deaf communities in East Africa. 

Dr. Khadijat Rashid is a professor of economics and international development at Gallaudet University. Her past work has included development projects in South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria, and she is co-author and co-editor, with Audrey Cooper of, Citizenship, Politics, Difference: Perspectives from Sub-Saharan Signed Language Communities. Her current research interests are the intersection of economics, identity and language. 

Meeting Venue:  Charles Sumner School, corner of 17th St and M St NW, Washington, DC

How to get there:  The Sumner School is located at 1201 17th St NW (corner of 17th St and M St NW).  The entrance to the meeting area is on 17th St under the black metal stairway. Directions from Metro Red Line: From Farragut North station, take either L St exit, walk one block east to 17th St, turn left and walk 2 blocks north.  Enter through the double doors under the black metal staircase. Check with security for the meeting room.

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