The Deaf Heritage Collective: Collaboration with Critical Intent
The paper reflects upon the Deaf Heritage Collective, a collaborative project led by Edinburgh Napier University’s Design for Heritage team and Heriot Watt’s Centre for Translation And Interpreting Studies. The project aimed to advance discussion around the British Sign Language Act (Scottish Government 2015) and bring into being a network of Deaf communities and cultural heritage organisations committed to promoting BSL in public life. The aim of this paper is to contextualise the project and its creative approach within the distinctly Scottish context, and the ideals of critical heritage, critical design and the museum activist movement. This paper presents the context and creative processes by which we engaged participants in debate and the struggles we encountered. We describe these processes and the primacy of collaborative making as a mode of inquiry. We argue that by curating a workshop space where different types of knowledge were valorised and where participants were encouraged to “think with” materials (Rockwell and Mactavish 2004) we were able to challenge the balance of power between heritage professionals and members of the Deaf community. By harnessing the explanatory power of collaborative making we debated the assemblages of epistemic inequality, and the imagined futures of Deaf heritage in Scotland.