Leonard A. Motler: A Deaf Anarchist Communist

January 18th 6.30-8pm

A talk with BSL by Dai O’ Brien and Steve Emery at Working Class Movement Library,

Have you ever looked around at the world at the moment and thought to yourself, “I wish I could do something to change this”? This presentation is about one deaf man in the early 1900’s who thought that to himself and then set out to try and make that change. Steve Emery and Dai O’Brien will be talking about Leonard Motler, a deaf anarchist-communist who was born and grew up in Eccles. After being educated in St John’s Catholic School for the Deaf and Dumb in Boston Spa, Motler worked in Manchester as a printer for several years before moving to London to join the anarchist movement, moving in similar circles as Sylvia Pankhurst and Silvio Corrio. We will cover Motler’s life, his politics and why it is important to remember his legacy for both working class politics and for deaf politics.

Steve became deaf at 4 and has been working in numerous roles with deaf signers for over 30 years, mainly in research. Originally a printer/typesetter by trade, he obtained a BA (Hons) degree in Cultural Studies in 1992 and his PhD, ‘Citizenship and the Deaf Community’ was awarded in 2007. He also obtained a counselling diploma from Manchester City College in 1998. He has undertaken research and published on several subjects including a deaf diaspora, the ethics of genetic counselling, international deaf protest, and minority group rights. His most recent project is on radical signs.

Dai has been deaf since childhood, and works at York St John University as an Associate Professor in BSL and Deaf Studies. His research has been around how deaf people navigate through the hearing world, including in work, social life and how they work with interpreters. His most recent research has been focusing on Leonard Motler with Steve, exploring how Motler was able to participate in radical political movements when he was the only deaf person in his circle.

A talk in British Sign Language with English interpreted. The talk will last for around 50 minutes and will be followed by a Q+A.