Strange conversations in the village where everyone speaks deaf talk

For the Invisible People project, my first trip was to visit a rural community with a very high rate of profound, prelingual hereditary deafness in Bengkala in North Bali. Around the village, both the deaf and the hearing use a totally indigenous sign language that has developed here without reference to any other sign language in the world.

Kolok Getar, describing the death of his son in a motorbike accident. Photograph by Irfan Kortschak. Copyright 2010 Irfan Kortschak / PNPM Peduli

Continue reading

Blogging about Blogging: Stories behind the stories

Last week, I was building the framework for this blog. I wanted to build a platform to display and promote some of the writing projects that I’ve been involved with. In particular, I wanted to create online versions of two books that I wrote, Nineteen and Invisible People. They are both collections of stories by ordinary Indonesians. Nineteen was a collection of stories about street traders in Jakarta, Invisible People contained stories of people from marginal, stigmatized groups in society.

But I didn’t want just to create a static website that contains the same materials as do the printed books themselves. I wanted to use a blog to tell people about the stories behind the stories. In the books themselves, I kept a very low profile: I wanted the stories of the people I was interviewing to stand out, and staying out of the way myself helped make that work. But I often found myself thinking that it would be fun to tell some of the stories behind the stories that we published. I could use a blog to explain how I met the people I interviewed, how I contacted them, who introduced them to me. Continue reading