Re(de)fining boundaries: on art, deafness and maternity in Uganda
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This study has explored Deaf Gain as a platform for activism, with the employment of sign language as Deaf culture and the Deaf female voice as a voice of reason, in the production of graphic and multimedia art, while contributing to voices challenging a patriarchy that limits the maternal rights available to women in Uganda. This contribution has been pursued through an exploration of the notions of Deaf Gain that are based on the unique experience of deafness that challenges social oppression and ignores minority voices, and suggests alternative ways through which human standards of living and functioning can be improved (Bauman and Murray, 2014) . Departing from the Health Policies (SDGs (goal 10) and Maputo protocol (article 14(1)), that view maternal health care as a right for all women and girls, in comparison to the high rates of maternal health complications, in addition to the study of Deaf gain, a studio project was carried out, in which deafness became a device for countervailing stigma against maternal health access of all women and girls in Uganda. The archives gathered for this study suggested that by employing the study of Deaf Gain, an alternative point of view can be sought to observe maternal issues, of which the barely explored Deaf female attitude was employed to inform this study’s studio project. The study was based its debt on the rate of maternal health complications remains elevated among Ugandan women. While policies are based on the assumption that, improved health provision will greatly reduce current maternal and infant mortality rates, though ignoring the overwhelming influence over policy by a patriarchy. Thus has Perpetuated gender inequality and violated the maternal rights of women, as well as limited women’s participation and access in the public sphere, to resources, decision making, and division of labour, besides normalizing prejudice norms to which women are subjected. This study suggested the relevance of Deaf Gain, to the production of graphic and multimedia art as activism. It did this by employing the Deaf female perspective, the use of Ugandan Sign Language, text, images and symbolism in art production, which resulted in the themes of antenatal care and postnatal care. As a result, this study developed art that contributed to the voices challenging a patriarchy that limits the maternal rights available to women in Uganda, by reaffirming maternal health as a right for all women and girls.