Thesis Proposal: Part VIII – Abstract 5

Prior to this abstract write-up, I found that I had an article on Foucault and Autism.  After reading it, I felt I had a strong theoretical framework in the form of Foucault’s concepts of genealogy and archaeology.  They both look at tracing back the idea of something back to its core.  Archaeology just looks at the input and the output idea, but genealogy looks at how the current idea came to be.

When this is combined with Latour’s Black Boxes and Burke’s Terministic Screens, it becomes obvious that these are four interrelated concepts.  Black Boxes are only concerned with the input and the output (archaelogy), terministic screens allow us to determine what is going on in the Black Box.

This was the last abstract I wrote before my thesis cracked open and I started writing only the drafts of my proposal!

Here is my abstract.  It is the same as abstract 4, with the exception of the bolded part in the second paragraph.


Yergeau and Heilker state that “every public discourse on autism is begging for rhetorical analysis.”  As the self-described “world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization,” Autism Speaks (AS) is a prime candidate for such a rhetorical analysis.  A preliminary study of AS reveals what they really advocate for: the eradication of autism.  Two questions arise from this finding: (1) how does AS  have the authority to pursue this objective, and (2) who does AS really advocate for?  

To answer these questions, we must trace AS back to its ideological roots.  We can do this by using Foucault’s concepts of archaeology/genealogy combined with Latour’s Black box Theory and Burke’s Terministic Screens illustrating that AS is the output of autism; autism is the output of Theory of Mind; Theory of Mind is the output of Otherness; and Otherness is the output of a different way of being in the world. Ableistic science, or the pathologization of the Other, is the terministic screen that determines the output in each of these cases and also answers question 1.

This answer combined with what AS’ objective is leads us to the following conclusion: ableistic science leads to ableistic advocacy (AS).  This leads to AS advocating for the parents of autistic children rather than autistic people themselves.  They do this by subjugating the autistic into silence which they then use as further warrant for their pursuit of the eradication of autism.

But autistic self-advocacy organizations are working to depathologize their Otherness by reclaiming what Heilker and Yergeau call “a different way of being in the world through language.” [249]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: