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Beyond the Camp and the Surgery: Cochlear Implants and Complex Dependencies in India

Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at 4:45pm

Uris Hall, G08 109 Tower Road

Talk by Michele Friedner (Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago)

The Indian state relates to the category of disability through the distribution of aids and appliances such as hearing aids, canes, and wheelchairs that are ‘make in India,’ as examples. In 2014, the state modernized its distribution program and started providing cochlear implants to children living below the poverty line. While aspirations exist to create and manufacture an indigenous Indian cochlear implant, currently the state purchases implants from four multinational corporations. This cochlear implant program reveals new directions for the state in regards to engaging with disability and introduces novel assemblages of welfare, medicine, rehabilitation, and multinational capital. In these assemblages, new relationships form between the state, multinational corporations, and families with deaf children. These relationships stretch beyond the one-time disability camp or the one-off surgery and have resulted in opportunities for government administrators, surgeons, and rehabilitation professionals to reinvent themselves in relation to the seemingly miraculous power of cochlear implants while also producing complex dependencies for families with deaf children.

Michele Friedner is an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. A medical anthropologist, she conducts research on deafness and disability in India and is the author of Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India (Rutgers, 2015) and the forthcoming book Sensory Futures: Deafness and Cochlear Implant Infrastructures in India (2022, University of Minnesota Press).

Co-sponsored by the Departments of Anthropology, Linguistics, and Science and Technology Studies

Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) will be available at this event.

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, Science and Technology Studies, Anthropology, Linguistics


asianstudiescal, sts, cascal, anthro, cashum, casling



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