Do Signals Have Politics? Inscribing Abilities in Cochlear Implants

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This article discusses autoexperiments, field notes, and laboratory tests on the hardware and software of cochlear implants. Electroacoustic devices resist seeing-through. Yet in the case of cochlear implants, the desires of early users, the conflicting demands of mainstream medicine and economics, and the mediated features of electrical listening, the politics attendant upon communication can be found embedded in the design of electroacoustic objects. Many bioethicists have taken up the Deaf culture or linguistic minority critique of implantation, which situates this technology in the long history of eugenicist attempts to promote oralism through the medical eradication of deafness and through pedagogical bans on sign language. Despite the prominence of the cochlear implant in disability studies, bioethics, and science fiction, however, this has inspired little research in science and technology studies (STS).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940691
ISBN (Print)9780195388947
StatePublished - Nov 21 2012


  • Bioethics
  • Cochlear implants
  • Deaf culture
  • Electroacoustic objects
  • Oralism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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