Tracing Autism

Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and the Affective Labor of Neuroscience

Des Fitzgerald

  • Published: July 2017
  • Subject Listing: Science and Technology Studies; Health; Anthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 226 pp., 7.5 x 9.25 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: In Vivo: The Cultural Mediations of Biomedical Science
  • Contents

In Tracing Autism, Des Fitzgerald offers an up-close account of the search for a neurological explanation of autism. As autism has gained cultural prominence with more diagnoses and more controversy, its biological causes remain elusive.

Through in-depth interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, Fitzgerald examines what it means to do scientific research in the ambiguous terrain of autism research, a field marked by shifting horizons of uncertainty and ambivalence. He draws out how autism scientists talk and feel their way through their research, demonstrating its profoundly affective character, and expanding our understanding of what is at stake in the new brain sciences.
Des Fitzgerald is lecturer in sociology at Cardiff University. He is the coauthor of Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences.

"The work is engaging, thoughtful, and challenging. Tracing Autism makes an innovative contribution to autism studies, studies of science and affect, and the sociology of medical knowledge."
-Chloe Silverman, author of Understanding Autism: Parents, Doctors, and the History of a Disorder

"Tracing Autism offers a theoretically rich and alternative perspective that departs from a critique of neuroscience to highlight how scientists 'move in, around, and out' with the complexities, anxieties, and ambiguities of autism neuroscience and the developing brain."
-Jennifer S. Singh, author of Multiple Autisms: Spectrums of Advocacy and Genomic Science

"Much more than a study of the making of a specific diagnostic category, this beautifully written book helps us to understand the hopes, the passions, and the ambivalences of scientists at work at the intersections of neuroscientific research, clinical practice and personal commitment."
-Nikolas Rose, King's College London

"Beautifully written and lucidly argued, Tracing Autism shows us how to think in more entangled, capaciousm, and affecting ways about the social life of neuroscience."
-Elizabeth A. Wilson, author of Gut Feminism