As If You Have a Choice: Autism mothers and the remaking of the human

P. N. Douglas

Abstract


This paper utilizes feminist phenomenology to explore how contemporary representations of autism, and autism mothers, are integrally caught up in western (and now globalizing) understandings of health, happiness and the “normative” human.  I examine the historical emergence of “autism mothers” as a new category of identity, and track this alongside a global autism mother recruitment campaign to get at what’s “behind” this phenomenon.  I argue that emerging autism mother figures like the feminine warrior are new and contradictory neoliberal subjectivities that contain a most “hateful” unethical and increasingly global duty: the reinscription and intensification of the “normal” human as bourgeois, nondisabled, white and western, and the “new” femininity as “naturally” nurturing and necessarily instrumental.  Even more, these new subjectivities are governmental, operating as western colonialist translations of happiness, compelling compulsory participation in increasingly limited, violent, and globalizing frames of normative humanity for us all.

Keywords


Autism; maternal health; feminist phenomenology; disabiilty studies

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/hcs.2013.137

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