Neurodiversity Studies : A New Critical Paradigm book cover
1st Edition

Neurodiversity Studies
A New Critical Paradigm

ISBN 9780367503253
Published February 1, 2022 by Routledge
256 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Building on work in feminist studies, queer studies and critical race theory, this volume challenges the universality of propositions about human nature, by questioning the boundaries between predominant neurotypes and ‘others’, including dyslexics, autistics and ADHDers.

This is the first work of its kind to bring cutting-edge research across disciplines to the concept of neurodiversity. It offers in-depth explorations of the themes of cure/prevention/eugenics; neurodivergent wellbeing; cross-neurotype communication; neurodiversity at work; and challenging brain-bound cognition. It analyses the role of neuro-normativity in theorising agency, and a proposal for a new alliance between the Hearing Voices Movement and neurodiversity. In doing so, we contribute to a cultural imperative to redefine what it means to be human. To this end, we propose a new field of enquiry that finds ways to support the inclusion of neurodivergent perspectives in knowledge production, and which questions the theoretical and mythological assumptions that produce the idea of the neurotypical.

Working at the crossroads between sociology, critical psychology, medical humanities, critical disability studies, and critical autism studies, and sharing theoretical ground with critical race studies and critical queer studies, the proposed new field – neurodiversity studies – will be of interest to people working in all these areas.

Table of Contents


Curing Neurodivergence/Eugenics

1. The Production of the ‘Normal’ Child: Neurodiversity and the Commodification of Parenting

2. Language Games Used to Construct Pathological Autism

3. Is There an Ethical Case for the Prevention and/or Cure of Autism?

Neurodivergent Wellbeing

4. Neurodiversity, Disability, Wellbeing

5. Neurodiversity in a Neurotypical World: An Enactive Framework for Investigating Autism and Social Institutions

Cross-Neurotype Communication

6. Neurodiversity and Cross-Cultural Communication

7. Understanding Empathy Through a Study of Autistic Life Writing: On the Importance of Neurodiverse Morality

8. Sensory Strangers: Travels in Normate Sensory Worlds

Neurodiversity at Work

9. Practical Scholarship: Optimising Beneficial Research Collaborations Between Autistic Scholars, Professional Services Staff and ‘Typical Academics’ in UK Universities

10. Designing an Autistic Space for Research: Exploring the Impact of Context, Space, and Sociality in Autistic Writing Processes

11. How Individuals and Institutions Can Learn to Make Room for Human Cognitive Diversity: A Personal Perspective from My Life in Neuroscience

Challenging Brain-Bound Cognition

12. Understanding Autistic Individuals: Cognitive Diversity not Theoretical Deficit

Moving Forwards

13. Neuronormativity in Theorising Agency: An Argument for a Critical Neurodiversity Approach

14. Defining Neurodiversity for Research and Practice

15. A New Alliance? The Hearing Voices Movement and Neurodiversity  


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Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvist is an Associate Professor in Sociology and currently a Senior Lecturer in Social work at Södertörn University. Her recent research is around autism, identity politics, and sexual, gendered and age normativity. She is the former Chief Editor of Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research.

Nick Chown is a book indexer who undertakes autism research in his spare time. His recent publication is Understanding and Evaluating Autism Theory (2016). He has reviewed for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, written various academic articles, and led a team studying support for autistic students in the UK.

Anna Stenning is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Bath Spa University. Her current research focuses on literary representations of autism, and intersections between disability studies and environmental justice. She is also a co-editor, with David Borthwick and Pippa Marland, of Walking, Landscape and Environment (2019).


"This must-read research-based text represents a step-change in our understanding of neurodiversity; challenging old assumptions, generating new knowledge and understandings of importance to us all. Written by editors and authors who really know what they are talking about, and organised around five key themes, it builds on critical race theory, feminist and queer studies, connects with disability and Mad Studies, to explore a new and important field – Neurodiversity Studies."
Peter Beresford, Professor of Citizen Participation at the University of Essex, UK, and Co-Chair of Shaping Our Lives, the national user led organisation.

"The increasing recognition that there is no 'normal' brain type against which all others must be judged pathological is having a transformative effect on every aspect of society: on employment, education, research, public policy, and how we conceive of the minds of other people. This book makes an important contribution to the evolving scholarly discourse around neurodiversity by centering the voices and experiences of neurodivergent people."
Steve Silberman, author of the prize-winning "NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity".

"There is SO MUCH here. The essays by Alyssa Hillary and Matthew Belmonte alone are worth the cost of the book. Neurodiversity advances, less like an army than like an ecosystem after a fire. Growth and renewal beyond measure."
Ralph James Savarese, Professor of English, Grinnell College and author of "See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor".

"Neurodiversity Studies: A New Critical Paradigm is interesting, enjoyable and thought provoking, and I think its theoretical discourse and positions have clear constructive practical implications which really matter."
Dinah Murray, autism researcher and campaigner

"Neurodiversity Studies: A New Critical Paradigm provides a deep-dive into the complex world of autism and the neurologically different. Ranging through the humanities, social sciences, philosophy, ethics, and communication studies, among other areas, the book breaks new ground in the academic study of the inner worlds and sensoria of a significant portion of the population too often ignored politically while over-treated medically."
Lennard J. Davis, Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Arts and Sciences, and also Professor of Disability and Human Development in the School of Applied Health Sciences and Professor of Medical Education in the University of Illinois College of Medicine, USA.

"This superb collection builds upon previous efforts of scholars and activists to decentre normative assumptions of what it is to be human and create an interdisciplinary discursive space, formulating neurodiversity studies as a new field of enquiry ... highly recommended would be an understatement!"  
Dr Damian Milton, Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, University of Kent, National Autistic Society as Autism Knowledge and Expertise Consultant and chair of the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC).