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ISSN: 2183-2803

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<O/ No Power but Deaf Power \O>: Revitalizing Deaf Education Systems via Anarchism

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Abstract:  Deaf education is an incoherent macrosystem whose sub‐systems—e.g., biomedical vs. sociocultural institutions—contradict. Unreconciled tensions cause stagnation, not regeneration, and harmful dissensus in deaf educational sub‐systems. To revitalize deaf education, address these contradictions, and eliminate incoherence, we posit that a deafled systemic transformation of deaf education is necessary; furthermore, we argue it may best be realized through theories and actions constitutive of anarchism. To this end, we synthesize four thematic loci where anarchism overtly aligns with constructs immanent in deaf communities. First, collectivism is necessary for survival in anarchist and deaf communities toward shared goals including equity in education, social labor, and politics. Second, mutual aid is integral—like anarchists who work arm‐in‐arm, deaf individuals and groups exhibit uncanny solidarity across political, cultural, technological, linguistic, and geographical boundaries. Third, direct action tactics overlap in both groups: When facing internal or external threats, both communities effectively rally local mechanisms to affect change. Finally, both groups exhibit a stubborn, existential refusal to be subdued or ruled by outsiders. Reframing systemic dilemmas in deaf education via anarchism is a novel, beneficial praxis that’s only been tangentially explored. Centering anarchism in deaf education also generates succor for ongoing struggles about sign language in deaf communities. Toward the horizon of radical equality, our staunchly anarchist analysis of deaf education argues that to guide deaf‐positive system change neoliberalism is inert and neo‐fascism anathema.

Keywords:  anarchist studies; anarchism; deaf education; deaf studies; democracy and dissensus; disability studies



© Michael Skyer, Jessica A. Scott, Dai O’Brien. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.