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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Book Review: Signing and Belonging in Nepal by Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway


Signing and Belonging in Nepal is an accessible, quick-reading 120 pages on how the Deaf signing community of Nepal has strategically reshaped their ethnolinguistic identity to gain legitimacy in a society that subordinates them. Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway describes a predominantly Hindu society largely influenced by the belief that “an inability to hear was the result of bad karma, or misdeeds in a previous life” (p. 3) and that this bad karma “could be transmitted to others through contact” (p. 4). Fearing negative karmic effects on their own lives, the greater Nepali community ostracized the deaf. Hoffmann-Dilloway explores how the Nepali signing community legitimizes themselves as an ethnolinguistic community within this dominant Hindu framework, as equally deserving of representation.

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