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Keywords:

  • deafness;
  • coffee shops;
  • value;
  • public sector;
  • private sector;
  • India;
  • affective economy;
  • neoliberalism

Abstract

This article ethnographically explores how and why deaf workers are hired in new Indian coffee shop chains. Arguing that such workers produce added value for the corporations that hire them, hearing coworkers, and customers who frequent these outlets, this article also explores the ambivalence that deaf workers feel about such employment “opportunities.” As a result of the decline in public-sector employment, the private sector has become a new site of disability employment, and nongovernmental organizations and vocational training centers have been created to train and place disabled workers in the private sector. In the process of such training and placement, these institutions create “workers with disabilities” as a category. Through participant observation, interviews, and literature review, this article explores how this category is produced and what its effects and affects are.