Emancipation Processes in the Ugandan Deaf Community

The Researcher

The Researcher

Dr. Goedele De Clerck specializes in interdisciplinary research with deaf people and sign language communities on their cultural diversity and wellbeing. As a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, she is affiliated with the Social Research with Deaf People (SORD) Group at the University of Manchester, UK.

Her research has focused on deaf communities’ emancipation, empowerment, identity dynamics, sustainable development, cultural diversity, cross-cultural perspectives, and processes of learning (epistemologies). Apart from generating projects in Flanders, she has extensive experience in working with sign language communities around the world.

In 2001 she graduated with highest distinction from Ghent University, Belgium, with a master’s degree in linguistics, for a thesis on the reading processes of deaf children in a bilingual educational setting in Flanders.

Since 2003 she has conducted anthropological research on empowerment, identity, and emancipation in deaf communities. She has taken a transnational and comparative perspective, giving particular attention to personal and community development. As a Francqui Fellow of the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF), she traveled to Washington, DC, in 2005 to carry out research at the world’s only liberal arts university for deaf people, Gallaudet University.

In 2009 she received a doctorate in Comparative Science of Culture (Anthropology) from Ghent University, for a dissertation on empowerment, identity, and agency in Flemish and international deaf role models. Her doctoral defense was the first to be conducted in sign language in Belgium. In 2010, she received the Hand of Flanders award from the Flemish Association of the Deaf (Fevlado) in recognition of this milestone.

During her postdoctoral fellowships at Ghent and the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), she initially deepened her research on emancipation processes through studies with the Flemish and Cameroonian deaf communities (2009-2012), and was a visiting scholar at the University of Buea, Cameroon. Then she explored the sustainable development of sign language communities in Flanders and Uganda (2012-2015), the latter as a visiting scholar at Kyambogo University. As an Honorary Visiting Scholar at the University of Manchester, she complemented this project by investigating the emancipation processes of deaf Ugandans through a British Academy Small Research Grant