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Signs of mission: about the process of constitution of Brazilian Sign Language (Libras)

Grant number: 10/18896-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2011
Effective date (End): April 30, 2014
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology - Urban Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Melvina Afra Mendes de Araújo
Grantee:César Augusto de Assis Silva
Host Institution: Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (CEBRAP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:08/10758-0 - Alterity and mediation: processes of construction of the ‘other’ in catholic and protestant universes in Brazil and Africa, AP.JP


Brazilian Sign Language (Libras) was legally recognized by Federal Law 10.436/2002, regulated by Federal Decree 5626/2005. Since then, it has designed a broad institutional framework for its consolidation. This investigation is precisely about the process of constitution of that language. Through ethnographic fieldwork was considered a ample empirical universe: schools for the deaf, Catholic parishes, Protestant congregations, associations of the deaf, spaces of sociability, organized social movement and academic institutions. The intention is to describe and analyze general sociological processes that structure that language. To date, this research described five dimensions: primary forms of association of deaf people, spaces of sociability, public speech in signs, linguistic elite and legitimate ways to use signs.

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