Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Pg. 99: Joshua O. Reno's "Home Signs"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Home Signs: An Ethnography of Life beyond and beside Language by Joshua O. Reno.

About the book, from the publisher:
An intimate account of an anthropologist’s relationship with his non-verbal son and how it has shaped and transformed his understanding of closeness and communication.

Home Signs grew out of the anthropologist Joshua Reno’s experience of caring for and trying to communicate with his teenage son, Charlie, who cannot speak. To manage interactions with others, Charlie uses what are known as “home signs,” gestures developed to meet his need for expression, ranging from the wiggle of a finger to a subtle sideways glance. Though he is nonverbal, he is far from silent: in fact, he is in constant communication with others.

In this intimate reflection on language, disability, and togetherness, the author invites us into his and Charlie’s shared world. Combining portraits of family life and interviews with other caregivers, Reno upends several assumptions, especially the idea that people who seem not to be able to speak for themselves need others to speak on their behalf. With its broad exploration of nonverbal communication in both human and nonhuman contexts, Home Signs challenges us to think harder about what it means to lead a “normal” life and to connect with another person.
Learn more about Home Signs at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Waste Away.

The Page 99 Test: Military Waste.

The Page 99 Test: Home Signs.

--Marshal Zeringue