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Deaf spaces on Mumbai trains


Kusters,  Annelies
Socio-Cultural Diversity, MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Society;

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The film focuses on deaf people in the Mumbai metropolis who travel in compartments reserved for disabled people, chatting and exchanging news and information. These spatial practices are facilitated by the peninsular geography and train infrastructure of Mumbai; the city's train infrastructure consists of two unidirectional main train lines. Deaf Mumbaikars occupy certain areas in the reserved compartments, creating deaf spaces where sign language use and deaf sociality are the organising principles. Because these compartments provide a diverse range of deaf people a space for daily meetings on the way to and from their (mostly hearing) work places and families; they are very effective spaces to maintain and expand networks in the wider Mumbai deaf community. Not only has does this way of traveling strengthen links in the Mumbai deaf community; in addition the visibility of signing deaf groups has caused a growth in deaf awareness and sign language skills among hearing people in these compartments in particular and at the train stations in general.