Francisco Ortega

State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; King’s College, London, UK

Articles. Research

The neurodiversity movement has so far been dominated by autistic people who believe their condition is not a disease to be treated and, if possible, cured, but rather a human specificity (like sex or race) that mustbe equally respected. Very few studies have been conducted to examinethe significance of the neurosciences and the cerebralization of autistic culture for promoting these ideas. The article explores the role of the brain and the neurosciences in projects of identity formation as illustratedin the case of the emergence of the neurodiversity movement. The movement is driven by so called high functioning autistic individuals,who argue that autism is not a disease, but a form of human difference. The article examines the development of autistic individuals and autistic socialities as well as social and community networks. It also addresses the emergence of autistic cultures and various issues concerning autistic identities. It shows that the formation of identities is associated withthe cerebralization of the condition. Facts about the brain are mobilized to depict autism positively. The move toward neurosciences has to be understood in a wider social context in which a brain-based vocabulary disseminates outside the lab and penetrates different domains of contemporary societies. This vocabulary is taken up by individuals and contemporary societies. This vocabulary is taken up by individuals and groups to speak about themselves and their relation with others as wellas in their identity claims and fights for rights.

Keywords: identity politics, neurodiversity, autism, autistic cultures,cerebral subject