Remembering what matters': Nature, culture and autism
- Start date: 1 October 2019
- End date: 31 October 2022
- Funder: The Wellcome Trust; The John and Lorna Wing Foundation
- Primary investigator: Anna Stenning
Partners and collaborators
PARC (The Participatory Autism Research Collective); Flow Unlocked; the Neurodiversity and Literature Network
My current research explores the representation of autism in life writing by autistic authors, in the context of the recent clinical and cultural framings of autism. I am interested in what this teaches us about life writing and the autobiographical construction of selfhood, and how these texts contribute to agency and cultural acceptance for autistic people. I am currently writing about material and cultural entanglement and how we construct meaning from our lives. This is part of my long-standing interest in overcoming dualistic understandings of what it is to be human - which are deeply entrenched in both cognitive psychology and the humanities - which suggest that the ideal subject is the individual 'white, Christian, heterosexual, able man’. In this way, I am interested in developing connections between medical humanities and decolonial studies and working in participatory and collaborative ways.
I am currently working with Georgia Pavlopoulu (UCL) and Damian Milton (PARC) to host the first Interdisciplinary Autism Research (IAR) festival which will run online for three days in May 2021. We are working in collaboration with autistic community organisations, artists and leading researchers, to organise an accessible event for academics and community members alike. We will focusing on raising awareness of how to reduce the barriers faced by neurodivergent artists and researchers, and understanding the relationships that matter to autistic people and their families. Our central question is what happens when we research with, rather than on, autistic people?
Publications and outputs
Author of 'Autism and Cognitive Embodiment: Steps towards a non-ableist walking literature', in Walking, Landscape and Environment (Routledge 2019); Co-editor with Hanna Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist and Nick Chown of Neurodiversity Studies: A New Critical Paradigm (Routledge 2020). Author of 'Understanding Empathy Through a Study of Autistic Life Wring: On the Importance of Neurodivergent Morality' (open access link) in Neurodiversity Studies.