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                  University of Chicago
                        Sensory Futures Discussion                     

                            September 29, 2022                         




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>> Okay.  We have a few extra chairs coming out.  So if you need a chair, bring it up to the front.  We can put in a few rows over on this side.  There we go.  There's plenty of space here for everybody to be comfortable.  Thanks so much.  

Thank you, everyone, for joining us today.  I'm Jenny Trinitapoli, in sociology and I'm the director for international science research.  I want to thank you all for being here and also thank the Franke institute for hosting the event and the many co-sponsors of the event, including the seminary co-op, the center for the study of gender and sexuality, the Pozen Family Center for human rights, the department for comparative human development, sound and society and disability studies at the University of Chicago.  

Also Alexis Puzon for creating this event and making the details right.  It's my pleasure to introduce today our author and our discussant, Michele Freedman, associate Professor in comparative human development, is a medical anthropologist and the work we're going to hear about and celebrate today is supported by the National Science Foundation, the American Association of University women and the University of Chicago Franke Institute for Humanities and CISSR.  Examining deafness and cochlear implant infrastructure in India, Michele's work investigates both the emergence of public sector programs that provide poor children with cochlear implantation and also a booming private implant market in India.  I first learned about this work through the proposal that Michele sent to CISSR about support through our book and monograph enhancement award.  The proposal was of course excellent and the entire board was unanimously excited about the substance and the opportunity to put CISSR resources into an open access version of this book.  This is extremely important for disseminating research and especially to low income context.  Then when I read the book, I just got chills.  In fact, later that day I spotted Michele in Nichols Park and ran across the street to catch her just to tell her how amazed I was about the accomplishment, as a sociologist, what strikes me about this book is it really does capture an entire universe in a grain of sand.  

Friedner reads together the state bureaucracies along with intimate family dynamics and the literal vibrations of mundane sounds such as the ticking of a clock or the falling of a leaf.  So many different phenomena are woven together in this tapestry.  There's major institutional story capturing the priorities of global health governance, state metrics and targets and multi national companies as they developed new technologies.  Then on an entirely different level, the readers experience the emotion and expectations through the microinteractions of family processes as deaf children begin their journey towards becoming normal and their habits of interaction with siblings and parents are likewise transformed.  

I'm far outside my area of expertise here so I will curtail my remarks and leave the real analysis to our discussant, Jennifer Iverson, an associate Professor in the department of music where she also is the director of graduate studies.  Like me she was trained at the University of Texas at Austin.  Her first book, electronic inspirations analyzes one of the first electronic music studios in Germany during the 1950s.  Another line of her research expertise, the one that puts her into conversation with us today is her work in disability studies, which focuses on difficult sounds, which I learned about for the first time through Friedner's speech banana.  Jennifer is a fellow of the American council of learned societies.  Her current project is a book and something else project, the ACLS awards allows scholars in the humanities and related social sciences to focus full time on their research for a period and what is supposed to culminate in a major piece of scholarly work.  Because sound cannot be read, Jennifer is unconstrained by the traditional monograph and is developing an interactional -- an interactive digital space that aggregates examples, recordings, live events, concert excerpts, talks and lectures and nationally distributed podcasts.  Jennifer, Michele, thank you for bringing us together today.  The floor is yours.  (Applause.) 

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Thank you guys so much for being here and thank you, Jenny, for that wonderful introduction.  Jenny is right.  Michele's book is amazing, and you should all buy it and read it.  It's really a transformative book and I'm so excited we get to spend some time discussing it today.  

When you guys came into the room, you heard some sounds on loop.  Does anyone want to describe some of the things that you heard?  

>> A baby crying.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Okay.  I'm going to ask you to speak into the mic.  We'll pass it. 

>> Sorry.  I heard a baby cry.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  What else?  

>> Water dripping.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Indeed.  Water dripping.  

>> Tripping.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Tripping.  

>> Yeah, tripping.  ‑‑ chirping.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Chirping.  Good.  What else?  Table saw or something like that. 

Right, so low rumbling table saws, something noisy.  Anything else?  

So when you take a look at the diagram on the screen, notice where all of those sounds fall.  Things like a saw, like birds chirping, water dripping, right?  We hear across a huge range of frequencies, but this graphic really points out that cochlear implants are really tuned toward speech and tuned toward the speech frequencies that fall inside of this banana shaped thing, the speech banana, right?  So initially this is a sort of sensory experiment for us, right, to really think about how different sensory worlds are a part of our individual experiences, right?  And that there's a kind of incommensurate experience between yourself and between me and between other people who hear differently than each of us do, right?  So Michele, this is one of the sort of initial observations and themes of your book.  But you also say that your least favorite question as a deaf person is what do you hear and that you're not interested in really comparing sensory‑isms or understanding in a concrete sense what the experience of cochlear implant users is in a sort of confined or constrained or objective sense.  So how do you deal with this question of incommensurate sensory experiences?  How does this come into play?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Well, I should say that I became obsessed with the speech banana when I was doing my research because I constantly heard audiologists and cochlear implant manufacturers and developers and all people who worked on cochlear implants as saying, you know, we need to get children into the speech banana.  And increasingly there's been discussion of the speech string bean.  And the speech string bean is the very top of the banana.  And so what's been really interesting is the ways that it seems like sounds of everyday life, sounds that are meaningful, sounds that do things in the world are pretty much devalued through this pursuit of cochlear implantation and in this pursuit of normality or normal hearing.  And so constantly what's at stake is getting people into the banana at the top of the banana.  You know, audiologists and speech and language therapists and other people working in the cochlear implantation, both in India and more broadly would say the most important thing to us is for children to be able to hear on the phone.  That is the most important thing.  Because the phone, you're hearing speech and it's completely decontextualized.  And so for me I thought this was very interesting and it brought up this question to me of what kind of sensorium are you trying to create here and what kinds of sensory hierarchies are you trying to envision in this create out there in this auditory base sensorium.  And I should say this image was actually designed by a deaf woman named Adrienne Clark so I asked her if she would make it for me and she said yes.  And she thought it was kind of ridiculous, but I explained it to her and so she made it.  But to go back to Jennifer's question about incommensurate sensoria, the way that I usually think about this is through political economy in a way because on one hand, I really want to hold onto the fact that we all have different values and we have different sort of sensory experiences that we value and that we find important.  There's this trope of asking deaf people, oh, what is it that you hear?  Can you describe what it is that you hear?  And that's a really difficult question to answer.  But what -- and it's also interesting to think about when deaf people go in for their cochlear implant mappings, they'll sit with an audiologist who has software on their computer, and the audiologist is saying can you hear this?  What is this sound bite.  And a colleague and I have been to the building of repository of how people have been describing sound.  So it's very much twitchy, annoying, staccato, overstimulating.  But it's just interesting to think about what these sounds actually sound like to people.  But for me was really thinking about again this question of hierarchies, of sensory experience, and the ways that deaf children are often working through degraded signals.  And so this is an interesting concept.  So degraded signals is something that neuroscientists talk a lot about.  They say that deaf children with implants working through degraded signals.  And on one hand, I want to hold on to that and on the other hand, I also want to say yes, and they have a complete and whole intact sensorium.  And I want to think about what is it that we can do to maximize deaf children and all people's sensory experiences and the different kinds of access to language and modality that they might have.  

And so in my work, I often talk about -- so this image is an image of three different generations of implant technology.  The one all the way on the left is an older generation processor.  The one in the middle is one that's still being used but that has never been used in the U.S. or in other western so-called developed context.  And the one all the way on the right is one that is considered to be the most sophisticated and most developed processor.  

And what's interesting is that with the one all the way on the right, there is noise cancellation features within this processor.  And there is a way to focus specifically on speech.  Again, this question of are you trying to get children to focus on speech or not.  And if the goal is to have children focus on speech, then it seems to me, fine, give them the best of what you've got.  And then but the second one, which is the one that's most widely distributed in India and elsewhere in developing contexts, this one is not used elsewhere in the world.  And it's really interesting to think about the fact that children are being implanted behind.  So there's these demands being placed on them, demands being on can the speech become normal, participate in mainstream education.  Yeah, they're doing so without access to all the things that they could and should have access to.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Yeah, I think those are really important differences.  I'm wondering why cochlear implant technologies and their proponents focus so much on language.  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Well, I think it's an interesting question.  I mean, from what I've learned, implants were designed to initially focus on speech.  They were initially designed to help with lip reading.  And then the technologies proved to be much better than any of -- than the designers ever imagined.  And then they became about speech.  So it wasn't even just language.  If it was language, it would be also about access to sign languages.  But it's about access to speech.  So listening and spoken language.  And they're often accompanied by therapeutics, like auditory verbal therapy and other types of therapeutics.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  I say language because it seems to me that the underlying assumption is that there's a deficit in deaf culture if you're only signing, right, and that deaf people need access to spoken language in some way, right?  And you only really need access to spoken language if what you want to do is communicate with the hearing world or have an interface, right?  So here's where I think this idea of becoming normal that you introduce in your book is pretty evident.  Can you say more about how this value of spoken language and speech contributes to the attitude of becoming normal or contributes to the attitude that deaf people need to become more normal by using spoken language?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Yeah, and I think I should say that, so the thing with cochlear implants is that they generally typically work really well or they can work really well.  And so they're called bionic ears.  They're called, you know, the gold standard in interventions and hearing.  So there's a way that -- I mean, there's a view that if you implant a deaf child early enough, during the critical period -- and of course there are all kinds of questions about what the critical period is and when plasticity wanes.  So there's this view that if you implant a child early enough, that their ability to use and respond to listening and spoken language will be -- will be just the same as typically hearing people.  And we often see that again on audiograms, where we see deaf children who have gotten implants at a certain time getting into the speech banana.  And so there is this idea that deaf children can develop normal brains or hearing brains through cochlear implants and through therapeutics that go along with them.  And so as a result, what's happened is that there's this expectation being placed on families of deaf children and of deaf children themselves, and they can and that they will become normal.  And to me normal, normalization, is very much a project of narrowing.  And it's a way of contracting the kinds of sensory experiences that are available to people and the kinds of modal and relational experiences that are available to people.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Yeah, I think that's such an important and such a red thread in your book.  I wonder if you can say more about what is lost, right?  Because what is gained is this interface with the hearing world, right?  And what is gained is the dream of a future of normalcy, right?  But you're talking about the constraint of becoming normal.  And I wonder if you could lay out really what's lost.  What's lost in terms of deaf culture when there's an impetus to move toward cochlear implantation and toward this project of becoming normal in the hearing sense.  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Well, I think there's a few things that are lost analytically.  So one thing that I just wanted to very quickly touch on in relation to that is I've become quite obsessed with this, okay?  So Sruthi is looking down over here.  So this over here is -- so cochlear implants, the newest technology of the cochlear implants come with an app on your phone, okay?  And on your phone you can track the amount of time that you spend in speech.  Do you have that, Margaret?  No.  Okay.  So yeah.  So you can track the amount of time that you spend in speech.  And audiologists and speech and language pathologists use this as a way to scold families often.  So they'll pull up the app and they'll say, okay, you didn't talk to your child enough, you know.  You didn't do enough speaking.  You haven't put your child in a language rich environment.  Okay?  So this is time and speech from over the summer when I was in Calcutta.  And I was in Calcutta with Sruthi's parents who were nonstop so up to ten hours a day, I was actually surprised it wasn't higher.  Now, in contrast, if I may publicly shame my family, Jamie and Safron, here I've only been in speech 3.1 hours on average.  So what I think is important about this is it takes work to constantly talk to a child.  It takes work to create a language rich environment.  And while I might have -- it might have come naturally to Sruthi's parents, I'm very interested in the kinds of work that families do to constantly put their children in these kinds of environments.  This talking all day, a mother told me, is I need to blab my heart out all the time.  Everything I see, I need to put into words, you know.  So do I think a project of producing normality or becoming normal is also a project of producing it, right?  And it also involved -- not only does it involve multi national corporations and the state, but it really involves people, families, who are constantly talking to their children.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Yeah, that's such an important point.  And I want to continue to explore this question of families and children and the way they're enrolled in this project of becoming normal.  

But I wonder if I could draw into the conversation Saffron, Michele's child.  I'd really like to ask Saffron, how do you get your mom's attention when you need her?  Can you tell us a little bit about what it's like at home?  

>> So usually I just -- I poke her sometimes, and I go mama?  Yeah.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  So you use touch and you use words.  Do you ever get her attention with gestures?  Like waving your arms?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Stomping?  

>> Yes, stomping.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Stomping.  I'm wondering about during the pandemic, did Zoom change anything?  Did you get her attention at different pandemic times?  

>> Yeah, I stomped on the floor when she was on a call.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  So that's -- thank you, Saffron.  I appreciate you jumping in there to provide a little behind the scenes look at your household.  It's I think an important reflection on the fact that communication is really multi modal, right?  We're using gesture.  We're using visual forms of communication.  We're using auditory cues that are not linguistic.  We're using touch, right?  And we're intersensing, as you called it.  We're integrating these different ways and these different modalities in our own body but also in a relational sense, right?  

One of the things you really talk a lot about in this book are the ways that mothers in particular are enrolled in this kind of work.  And especially when there's such a big emphasis on language rich environments and auditory sensing, mothers are often enrolled in things, such as withholding touch or standing behind the child when they speak to them, or speaking in a foreign language, such as English rather than a native language or a mother tongue.  They're often enrolled in projects like withholding sign from the children so that the child will be forced to communicate in spoken language.  

And these are -- you know, as you can imagine, pretty extreme forms of intervention in the mother-child bond.  I wonder if you could say more about that and more about if you have feelings about -- that enrolling in the becoming normal at the expense of a more sort of organic nurturing form of mothering.  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Well, it seemed to me like mothers often have a very tricky and separate -- slippery tight rope to walk because on the one hand, they're constantly told, oh, you're a mother.  It's natural that you're doing this work.  You carried the baby in your womb.  You're the one who has the most patience for this child.  You're the one who's going to love this child the most.  But then on the other hand, there are everyday ways of waving to children that are constantly devalued.  So they're told not to touch their children.  They were told that if they wanted to hold their child, the child should be facing outward as opposed to facing inward so that the child wasn't reading lips.  Because the point was really to get the child to become auditorally dependent.  So becoming auditorially meant forgoing or forsaking relating.  So mothers often talk about how much work they have to do and in addition to doing the work, they have to narrate the work in words.  So all of the work of every have to be put into language so that they could talk to their child, so that they could get higher time in speech because that was considered currency.  So speech was the currency.  And I often saw mothers being devalued on the no work and their expertise being devalued in the sense that audiologists and speech and language pathologists would say very dismissively, oh, these mothers, they have EQ, emotional quotient, but they don't have IQ or intelligence quotient. They don't know how to talk to their child, and that is what's important.  And it was very interesting to think about this in relationship to literature on childhood in India, in general where so much is based on overhearing.  There was such little focus in the literature on didactic one-on-one interaction.  And mothers were really being shaped to change how they related to children to really focus on one-on-one interactions.  And on one hand, mothers talked a lot about the pressures that they faced because they said we're the ones who are supposed to do this.  If we don't do this, no one will.  And then on the other hand, it was interesting to see that some mothers actually did wind up becoming therapists themselves and really sort of like forcing under these -- under this regime.  And there was something called auditory verbal therapy, which is a very specific form of therapy that involves again trying to develop a hearing brain through listening and spoken language.  And so there were mothers, particularly upper class and cast mothers who became certified as ABT therapists.  They went to international conferences.  They went on the lecture circuit.  They became consultants.  And so it's interesting to see mothers negotiate different forms of expertise.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Something I love so much about your book is the way it really provides such intimate pictures of these one-on-one relationships, and your ethnographic work is just -- it's incredible.  But another thing that you do in this book, as Jenny alluded to, is you scale up to the highest levels of geopolitics and global international corporations.  I'm wondering if, as a point of contrast really, you could help us understand how the state thinks about disability in India, how the government thinks about disability and how disability communities come together.  And how do we get from that larger scale of governmental policy to one-on-one interactions in a family and mothers being enrolled in advancing the normal futures of their deaf children?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Yeah, I think it's a really important question.  So India has traditionally looked at disability as an issue of distribution.  So traditionally the state has distributed aids and appliances, like wheelchairs, hearing aids, walkers, canes, and so on.  And they usually do things -- like they usually do distribution at camps.  So these mass forms of distribution.  And the state has looked at itself as being a benevolent welfare state in the realm of disability.  And then in 2014, the government -- the current government that we have right now, the BJP, decided that it was going to modernize its distribution program.  And one of the things that I was going to do was provide cochlear implants.  And it was interesting when it decide today do that because unlike all these other aids and appliances, cochlear implants need to be surgically implanted.  They require medical expertise in the way that other forms of disability don't require, other forms of distribution don't require.  And so the government decided, the central government, decided to start this program and entered into contracts with three of the major -- actually four of the major cochlear implant manufacturers.  They're all located outside of India.  There isn't is an indigenous Indian implant even though there are efforts to develop one.  So implant from these multi national corporations and advise them from the lowest bidder, which is how we wound up with a CP802, which is the implant that I showed you that has never been distributed in the U.S. or elsewhere.  And so what happened was people started applying for these and got them.  And it was really seen as a project of building capacity in the country.  So the state was saying we want to build capacity on cochlear implant surgeons, we want to build capacity of audiologists.  We want to build capacity of speech and language therapists.  And then we want to build capacity of mothers and families because we want them to talk to their children and to engage with their children in these different ways.  

And then lastly but not least, we want to build capacity of deaf children.  We want to make them become normal.  And this, if we do this, if we do this one time thing, we provide the surgery, we provide the implant, and then after that these kids will be normal and they will not need anything.  Which is unfortunately not the case at all because these children and these families now enter into relationships of complex dependencies with these implant manufacturers.  So after three years, the state pulls back.  And these families are left to negotiate with these companies.  And what I'm finding is that a lot of families cannot maintain the devices.  And as a result, they're unable to maintain normalcy.  And normalcy is very much a reseeding project.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Yeah, I'm starting to think there are many normals and that they may be incommensurate as well.  It raises interesting questions about who gets to establish futures.  But it also makes me wonder about how disability communities come together in India.  So more like the middle tier of the big scale, right?  Are there hearing and deaf people in the same spaces in India?  And in deaf spaces, are there people who are implanted with CIs and people who are not?  Is sign language still in use?  Can you say more about how disabled people in India envision their own future?

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  So there is a mainstream disability rights movement in India.  It's very much based in cities.  It's based mostly in Delhi and elsewhere.  It's very much tapped into international disability rights logic.  So around the united nation conventions and peoples are disabilities getting contracts from international disability alliance, working with multi-national corporations.  And within that larger disability movement, there are deaf activists who are part of it.  So there's a National Association of the Deaf that's part of it.  And there's also -- so in addition to this sort of mainstream capitalist, neoliberal disability movement, there's also another movement that was started by the communist party in India, and that movement is more based on basic needs, so helping people get disability certificates, helping people get their pensions, helping people get their entitlement.  So getting the objects that they are supposed to get under law.  

What's been interesting to think about is where do A, deaf children fit into this and B, implanted deaf children and implanted people fit into this.  

One thing that I've been thinking a lot about lately is the role of children or the role of focusing on children in international disability rights organizations because so much of the focus seems to be on adults and cultivating deaf leaders or cultivating disability leaders.  

Which there hasn't been much of a focus on children.  And what I found in India with children who are implanted was there was a refusal by children, mostly by families and not by children as much as by families, but there was a refusal to utilize the category of disability.  There was a -- you know, I'm no longer disabled, or I'm not disabled because I have this implant.  And there's this -- almost like these biosocial refusals that are happening.  So there's a desire not to associate with disability movement.  And then the weird part -- what's interesting is deaf activists largely seem repulsed by cochlear implants, you know, aesthetically they're repulsed.  Materially they're repulsed.  And there's a desire not to take these folks into the fold.  And one thing that's been interesting has been -- so there's an Indian sign language research and training center that's based in Delhi and they promote Indian sign language.  However, under this current government, it's all about numbers.  So it's about creating a dictionary with 10,000 words.  It's about creating a certain number of sign language interpreters.  And it's all about numbers.  Just like with implants.  I should say that with implants, for the state, it's about numbers.  The outcome occurs the minute the surgery is finished.  There's the outcome.  There's the number.  But then the question of how do we think beyond the surgery.  How do we think across a lifespan?  How do we think about when this child becomes an adolescent, when this child becomes an adult?  How do we sort of hold on to what that future might look like?  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Yeah, incredible complex questions.  I think it's startling to see how much the cultural scenario is still very much shaped by a binary of normal or able-bodied or hearing versus disabled, right?  And what your work really shows is that the reality is much, much more complex than those very simple categories.  And yet the energy is still often very -- very often pointed toward a kind of narrowly defined normal, right?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Yeah.  And I think the other thing that's been really interesting to think about that is they're all young -- there are young adults who have gotten implants in India who were the star cases, according to the cochlear implant manufacturers who are now learning sign language and who are now sort of playing with their identity.  There's increasingly talk of ableism in the Indian public sphere, at least among certain youth.  So I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens in the future, especially among these more educated elite children now adults who used to be the star cases. 

But then on the other hand, there's a cohort of people who live in more rural areas, and in cities who have gotten implants and whose implants no longer work.  And then the question is what are those children going to become?  And there are familiar -- their families are not told about Indian sign language.  They're not told about other forms of communication or other ways of relating.  And they're sort of left to grapple and to figure out what communication might look like or might be.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Yeah, fascinating.  

Let's open it up for the audience, shall we?  What questions do you guys have more Michele?  

>> Thank you.  Hi, I'm another Jennifer in the room.  So Michele, when you were talking about -- I guess I have two -- two things.  One, I wanted to know about the days of the week that Sruthi's parents were chattering at you versus the silent time you spent at home and it's partly because were they retired?  I just wondered about other factors besides --

>> There were three hours there, so it wasn't silent.  (Laughter.) 

>> What did you say?  

>> I don't want to create a debate, but I just wanted to -- like I just think there's certain activities -- I was just wondering if there were certain activities. 

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  I think it's an interesting question.  How much do you think you're in speech today, Jennifer. 

>> Very, very little, I think I'm alone with my computer so much of the time.  I think I'm not in speech.  Like I see this as -- yeah, not at all.  Like some but very little actually.  

But so that was one question.  Like what day of the week was it, what phase of life were Sruthi's parents in.  And I think some families -- it's true that some families talk a lot and some families talk less and I was thinking about being in a family where everybody talks all the time, it might get very tired too.  So there's also like -- that you can think of all the different norms.  So that was one question about that specific thing.  The other question I had was about the -- when you were talking about how the moms get disciplined, is there something qualitatively different than the way say different communities get disciplined by people in this country?  Like it's around speech, but you can see that like, you know, there are all sorts of norms around language rich environments or reading to your children or certain kinds of styles of parenting that are validated in this country.  So I just wondered what the differences were or if it was just another substantiation of that.  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Yeah, those are great questions.  And I think -- you know, I often say that Sruthi's parents would be the ideal therapists because as retired people, they just constantly like to recommend Nissan tell stories and tell jokes.  

>> My mom's not retired.  (Laughter.)  She works with you.  (Laughter.) 

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Yes, but I do think there's this interesting question of, you know, what mothers are supposed to talk about.  So everything is supposed to become language.  So examples would be I'm going to go into the kitchen to cook now.  The kitchen is next to the living room.  I'm going to use a pressure cooker to make the dahl.  The dahl is yellow dahl.  Usually we have orange dahl or Black dahl or some other kind of dahl.  I'm going to cook it in the pressure cooker.  Then will go off three whistles.  So everything that somebody is doing has to be turned into language.  And everything her mother does is a language opportunity.  And so -- and it's also interesting -- I mean, in some ways Sruthi's parents wouldn't have been the ideal therapists because they were talking about more abstract things about history and past.  This is all about the present, everything you see around you and everything that you're doing in the moment is supposed to turn into language.  And I think you're right, that it's not that dissimilar from other kinds of disciplining.  But I think the stakes are higher.  And I think the fact that these mothers are interfacing with these therapists and with these teachers on a regular basis is also what makes it more high stakes.  And I think -- you know, I've seen therapists’ mothers, you're careless and indifferent.  You don't talk to your child enough.  Because of your indifference, your child is not going to become normal.  They're lost.  They're wasted.  So I think it is about stakes.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  It also seems really gendered.  And I also noticed when you thanked your collaborators and disclosed your really important role, your ISL translators and your language guides and so on, they were almost all women.  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Yeah.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Or maybe all women.  And I wondered about women's role in particular in being these translators, in being these relational facilitators.  It seems like the kind of disciplining that we're talking about here in the home is very gendered.  And I think is often gendered in American culture as well, right?  I'm wondering if you have thoughts about how this particular kind of relational work is really women's work.  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Well, I think it really does relate to -- when I think about the role of the mothers, I think it has to do with Indian society where men are told, okay, you go to work.  You just do your work.  You are the bread winner.  And it's the woman who stays home with the child.  And the woman who bears the child, and so therefore has a deeper familiarity with the child.  

In terms of research assistants and how I chose to work with women, I think I just enjoyed working with -- I don't know.  Is Anjolie here?  Oh, there's Anjolie.  So Anjolie was actually my first research assistant and she came with me to India and attended cochlear implant industry conference with me.  I was actually hoping you might want to say something about it.  If you want to.  But, no, but I think it's an interesting question of like why a woman?  Yeah.  

>> What should I say about it?  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  You could describe what you did.  She writes about that in the book, like describing the work that you did during the conference.  But any other ideas you have, too, about, you know, being a facilitator, being a woman, like how these feminine bonds or gendered roles come into play. 

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  And you hated going to that conference. 

>> I'm in medical school now and that conference, like going there with Michele completely made me rethink how these conferences are conducted.  It made -- it changed the way that I interact with those spaces because like going there with Michele as like an anthropologist, like we got to ask questions about like what are the types of -- I'll use (inaudible) for example.  Why are they measuring certain things?  Why are these certain themes like being emphasized at this conference?  And is it actually like getting to the actual goal of making people interact with the world more safely or in more power.  I think it speaks to cochlear implant, does it speak to their specific goals about running a certain number of surgeries or running a certain -- to be known for it, like as a big thing that we talked about, among the surge once and the medical -- surgeons and the medical professionals.  I don't know.  That's kind of a rambling way to say that.  It really was unpleasant because another thing we noticed was there wasn't a single deaf person there, not a single person with an implant but there was a lot of talk about a lot of the way they spoke about people with cochlear implants was in this like -- in the light of like recipient -- it was like the gift language and things like that but without this spent at all.  So that ruins the (inaudible) but it was -- yeah, it was definitely not (inaudible).  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Yeah, thanks for that insight.  

Other questions from the audience?  

>> Hi.  So you -- not going to talk about my parents.  (Laughter.)  But you describe -- I'll talk about other parents and mothers again, you could move on to other topics.  But you sort of describe the work that happens in the setting of just like the mom and the child and therapist and those sort of closed up therapeutic rooms.  And you also talk about other senses that may be lost.  So, yes, we -- we know that speech may be gained a certain way.  But you talk about touch.  Looking, vision, smells, those things.  Do you -- in your ethnographic theme, do you note ways in which both maybe the mom and the child were communicating in those ways as well and either getting reprimanded or even that stuff being completely invisiblized or devalued?  And do you think that does lead to some sort of loss in the long run, even if you want to talk about it in terms of nonnative development?  Like is something being -- something important being lost in terms of sensorial futures in implanted children?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  I really think they are.  So I think my field knows for this book we're really born, because I was in a setting, a therapeutic setting.  I tried really hard to just write every single thing that happened in that setting.  So this happened, then this happened, then this person touched this person.  And so I just really wrote every single thing that I saw and that I thought that was being experienced.  And then I tried to sort of almost create sort of a table of all the different ways of engaging that I saw happening.  And I think what was interesting was that mothers often didn't talk about those things as being communicative or as being valued.  But they so clearly were.  They were being taught not to value these things.  And it was interesting to think about what would it look like if we were in a space where all of these things were valued.  And it makes me think about -- so Sruthi and I went this summer, before I was with her parents, to visit another center in India.  It was in the north of India, and it was for children with intellectual disabilities.  And at this center, the teachers were -- they were the most incredible communicators.  I mean, they were touching.  They were drawing pictures.  They were facilitating.  They were exchanging food.  So there was taste, there was smell.  They were doing everything.  And to me that is really the van guard of communication, using everything.  And I think -- you know, there's the problem -- I mean, you can also say but everything is also next to you to do nothing.  To do everything is also a way to say I'm not going to do something good enough.  I'm just going to do everything and it's going to be wonderful.  

But I think, yes, children need language.  And then they can also get that language in lots of different ways.  And I think we do need to value these other kinds of multi modal forms of communication.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Here here.  Pun not intended, but -- another question.  

>> Hi, I'm Prachi.  I'm wondering if you could compare the social and political differences for a deaf child in the U.S. versus India?  Largely because that's the context I'm more familiar with.  Yeah.  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  I mean, it's an interesting question. 

>> And I'm wondering -- I guess, sorry, if it mostly comes down to a difference in access through resources and technologies, or is it more than that?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  I mean, I've been thinking a lot about that too because I think access to technology is a big thing.  But I think also access to multiple options is another thing.  And so here ostensibly parents are told that their -- there are choices that they can make.  There are communication opportunities or language opportunities that they can draw from.  And there's a focus on family centered early intervention increasingly, which I think is going to be something that's more and more important in India.  But recently there's been a focus on including deaf adults or there's been a desire to include deaf adults in family-centered early intervention.  And I think -- you know, one thing I've been struggling a lot about, a lot with, is what's the argument for including deaf adults in early intervention?  Because you talk with medical ethicists here and they say oh, it's the family's choice.  You can't force them to meet a deaf adult.  But then there are people saying, you know, well, these kids should meet deaf adults.  They should meet other people who are like them.  But then it becomes a question of what does it mean to be like them.  But one thing that I did really find interesting in India was the sort of like everyday forms of accommodation and access making the activity take place, often below the radar in the ways that families in many cases, in some cases didn't follow what the therapists were telling them to do or they would go in and talk with their kids' teacher and sometimes that teacher would be really great about trying to include the child.  And sometimes the teacher would be terrible.  And unlike here, there aren't laws that are supposed to make sure that children get free and appropriate education.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Another question.  

>> Thank you so much.  I'm Jean from the Crown school.  And that gets to my -- the question that I want to ask.  That is like what kind of work do teachers and students do, other students do, with children with cochlear implants and -- because I suppose not -- and/or maybe let's back up.  What kind of schools are those deaf children in?  Are they mainstream schools or segregated political special schools?  And when they get the implants, what kind of accommodation or changes that teachers and other students are supposed to make for them?  And what kind of valuation go into making or not making these accommodations and changes?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Yeah, that's a great question.  So the goal is for these kids to be in mainstream schools.  And cochlear implant surgeons will say things like in a few years there will not be anymore deaf schools.  You know, I talked to one program surgeon in a city, and he said, thanks to cochlear implantation, all the deaf schools in the city are going to close.  They're not going to exist anymore.  And I was like hmm, so then I went to all the deaf schools.  I was like I am going to do this.  Because he said this, I am going to go to every deaf school and see if what he said was true.  And actually what I found was a lot of those schools had kids with implants because mainstream schools will say things like I'm so sorry.  We can't take care of the device.  We can't be responsible.  We can't manage.  And these devices are so expensive.  And families really worry about these kids' devices.  And they will often say, you know, I don't want to send my kid to school when it's raining because I don't want the device to get wet.  I don't want my kid to go out and play because I don't want the device to fall off and break.  And so very often deaf kids or kids with implants will wind up going to the deaf schools because the parents think okay, they know how to take care of devices so we'll send them there.  But often what happens is deaf kids or implanted kids are in schools with 49 other children.  They're sitting at very noisy desks, noisy in the sense that they're wooden, the floor is cement, there are fans whirling, the windows are open.  There's traffic outside.  Sometimes the teachers are really helpful and will work with the child.  Sometimes they just say oh, madam, what can I do?  I have 49 other children.  How do I maintain these kids?  How do I manage?  

And so for the most part, what I found is that mothers, again mothers, do more work because they're expected to teach their children at home.  So their kid will go to school, but then the education will happen at home, either with the mother, another family member.  They'll go for tutoring.  And there's increasingly a phenomena about what is being called shadow teachers or shadow schools, which is -- so there's a teacher or a school that the child will go to.  So they'll enroll in the mainstream school.  But then they'll go to this other school or this NGO for most of their education.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Another question.  

>> You talked a bit about -- I wanted to go back to something you mentioned about parents -- or mothers not following the kind of prescribed structure and then you had talked earlier about kind of a new wave of older youth deciding to take a more activist, a less ablest view of how they want to communicate.  Did you see any evidence of like subversion from parents or children that are in this structure with the therapist that would be, I don't know, like budding evidence of future activists?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  I love that question.  And I -- and I wish that I did.  I unfortunately did not.  And I found a lot of parents felt fearful because they feel like these companies are holding them hostage.  Like one mother said, like these companies talk about it as a lifelong relationship or lifelong marriage.  But actually as a hostage situation.  I cannot remove this device from my child's head.  And I have to be nice to the company.  And even these activists, the young adults, there is a sense that, yes, they don't want to be the poster children anymore.  But they still want to have access to the devices and to upgrades and to maintenance.  So it's a very slippery slope.  I did meet families who said that's it.  We're not using these devices anymore.  We're going to learn how to sign.  But very few.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Any closing questions?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Thank you, Jennifer, for moderating.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  My pleasure.  You all should buy and read this book.  Your life will change.  It's an amazing book.  Let's give Michele a hand.  (Applause.) 

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  And I just want to say thank you so much.  There are so many people here who have really helped make the book what it is.  So Anjolie, Sruthi, Ali read drafts.  Margaret read drafts.  The amazing people in my department, Jennifer, Tara, Midi, you've all read drafts.  Tyler who was here a bit ago read drafts.  

>> Eugene?  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  Oh, Eugene in the back.  Yes, Eugene is just sitting there.  Jean read the draft.  So it's been a really wonderful experience having so much feedback and encouragement and support.  So thank you so much.  And thank you to Jamie and to Saffron for everything that they do and thank you, Jenny, for doing all this.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  I believe we have a small reception set up in the back, so please stay, have a drink, continue to chat.  

>> MICHELE FRIEDNER:  And there's vegan food.  

>> JENNIFER IVERSON:  Thank you for coming.
(End of event.)
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