"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. Paul Preston, one of these children, 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 150 interviews with adult hearing children of deaf parents throughout the United States, Mother Father Deaf examines the process of assimilation and cultural affiliation among a population whose lives incorporate the paradox of being culturally "Deaf" yet functionally hearing. It is rich in anecdote and analysis, remarkable for its insights into a family life normally closed to outsiders.
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Paul Preston manages the recently created national Research and Training Center on Families of Adults with Disabilities, located at Through the Looking Glass, a nonprofit organization in Berkeley, California. He is also Research Associate in Medical Anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco.Review:
Preston's findings are both interesting and important...[His] thoughtful and lucid account raises as many questions as it answers, and thus makes a significant contribution to the small but growing literature on deaf culture in particular and disability studies in general. (Nora Ellen Groce Medical Anthropology Quarterly)
There is much more to the difference between being deaf and hearing than simply whether one hears or not. The two worlds are separate and different. Paul Preston offers us a unique view of those differences through his anthropological study of people who exist in both cultures, the hearing children of deaf parents...This book is informative and inviting...[Preston] provides a useful source of information for understanding the interactions between the hearing and deaf worlds. (Charles V. Anderson Contemporary Psychology)
Through stories, family histories, and sensitive questioning, Preston reveals what it feels like to stand astride the two cultural communities and offers new insights into the world of deafness. (Booklist)
I have no doubt that Preston's work is now the major study on this topic and will be so regarded by researchers in deafness and anyone interested in the study of culture and its transmission through the family... Preston's interviews will lay to rest many of the stereotypes and myths that exist in both the media and the literature of deafness. (John S. Schuchman, Gallaudet University)
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