Erin Mellett

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Memphis, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10658

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Mellett, Erin (Memphis, U. of) "Language Brokering as Resistance: Deaf Immigrants and Healthcare Access in the U.S."

Bringing together linguistic and medical anthropology, deaf and disability studies, and migration studies, this research asks: how do deaf immigrants in the United States negotiate the constraints and possibilities of different languages and different language modalities to navigate processes and spaces that are fundamentally exclusionary? Through participant observation and semi-structured interviews conducted in both the northeast and southeast U.S., this multi-sited comparative study investigates how the intersection of deafness and immigration produces barriers in access to healthcare services for deaf immigrants, and how deaf immigrants’ collaborative, multilingual, and multimodal language practices can help (rather than hinder) their ability to navigate such barriers. In particular, this research explores how language brokering practices afford deaf immigrants agency in a context where they are traditionally stripped of it. Touching upon broader anthropological theories and concepts including language ideologies, marginalized languages, solidarity, and resistance, this research examines how language forms and practices can enable those who are traditionally marginalized within a system to better navigate (and perhaps challenge) that system.