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Keywords:

  • Ethnicity;
  • identity;
  • deafness and family relationships

Abstract This paper explores how various and competing identity claims are negotiated by young deaf people and their families. Our findings, based on group and individual interviews with young South Asian deaf people and individual interviews with their families, illustrate the complex realities of identity negotiation and how this process occurs against the backdrop of ethnicity, religion, gender, racism and deafness. More generally, the structures against which these negotiations take place influence the identity choices to be negotiated. Equally, the struggles to define self-hood in meaningful and fulfilling ways show agency and ingenuity at work. This helps us to understand a fundamental tension facing young South Asian deaf people as they make sense of their deafness. Deaf culture represented a source of strength and inclusion in a community, which reaffirmed and respected their difference as deaf people, while at the same time denying and undermining their ethnic and religious difference.