War on Autism examines autism as a historically specific and powerladen cultural phenomenon that has much to teach about the social organization of a neoliberal western modernity. Bringing together a variety of interpretive theoretical perspectives including critical disability studies, queer and critical race theory, and cultural studies, the book analyzes the social significance and productive effects of contemporary discourses of autism as these are produced and circulated in the field of autism advocacy. Anne McGuire discusses how in the field of autism advocacy, autism often appears as an abbreviation, its multiple meanings distilled to various “red flag” warnings in awareness campaigns, bulleted biomedical ”facts” in information pamphlets, or worrisome statistics in policy reports. She analyzes the relationships between these fragmentary enactments of autism and traces their continuities to reveal an underlying, powerful, and ubiquitous logic of violence that casts autism as a pathological threat that advocacy must work to eliminate. Such logic, McGuire contends, functions to delimit the role of the “good” autism advocate to one who is positioned “against” autism.
“A comprehensive treatise on the social, political, and discursive constitution of the conceptual object called ‘autism’ which considers a broad range of arguments, artifacts, and events and does so in a series of lively and provocative challenges to accepted understandings of this relatively recent phenomenon. The book will be a terrific addition to the growing supply of disability scholarship that draws upon Foucault’s insights.”
— Shelley Tremain, editor of Foucault and the Government of Disability
“McGuire’s multi-pronged, critical analysis of modern-day autism advocacy will profoundly impact the field of Disability Studies and uproot (unfortunately) dearly-held clinical and educational paradigms that dominate contemporary discourse on autism.”
— Melanie Yergeau, University of Michigan
Anne McGuire is Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Equity Studies Program at New College, University of Toronto.