The Rhizome of the Deaf Child

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article provides an analysis of the binary construction of human communication as it is represented in the debates about pediatric cochlear implantation. While the authors express their concern about interests that promote pathologizing assumptions about deafness and downplay the known challenges and limitations of cochlear implants, their goal in this article is to call attention to the complex and diverse ways deaf children and adults experience their communicative difference. Drawing from disability studies, deaf studies, the work of Deleuze and Guattari, and Charles Garoian’s 2013 The Prosthetic Pedagogy of Art, the authors scrutinize binary conceptualizations of spoken language and sign language, and deaf/Deaf and hearing. In place of binaries, the authors explore human communication in ways that denaturalize boundaries between, across, and within deaf and hearing communities. The authors draw from Garoian to tie Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of “anomaly” to Snoddon and Underwood’s 2013 discussion of “plurilingualism” to argue that communicative competence is always relational, emergent, and constantly shifting and that which is positioned as anomalous is that which simultaneously creates potential for the emergence of new ways of being. The authors invite readers to “enter the rhizome” and “navigate in-between spaces where bodies as multiplicities can thrive.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-574
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 15 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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