Belek, B. 2019. Autism. In The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology (eds) F. Stein, S. Lazar, M. Candea, H. Diemberger, J. Robbins, A. Sanchez & R. Stasch. http://doi.org/10.29164/19aut
Abstract: The concept of autism is historically contingent. It did not exist, in any proper sense, before it was invoked by medical and mental health professionals in the twentieth century. This entry aims to shed light on this relatively recent concept. First, it contextualises autism within the broader social, epistemological, and political circumstances of its emergence and ongoing negotiation, showing autism to be a dynamic concept, whose meaning is constantly in flux. Second, it revisits some of the more insightful or influential analyses that autism has received over the years in anthropology and adjacent disciplines. And third, it illustrates that anthropologists have been particularly attuned to everyday experiences of autism, comparing it to other forms of human difference while occupying an ambivalent stance towards biomedical approaches to it. A discussion on how autism might matter for the discipline of anthropology features very briefly in the conclusion.
“I believe it can change the way things are”: Identity construction among video-bloggers with Asperger’s syndrome on youtube
This research is a link in the study of autism from a social science perspective and more generally, in the social study and social theory of disability. It focuses on those individuals who identify as having Asperger’s syndrome by observing and interacting with them through video blogging on YouTube. The central question is: What is the mechanism by which members of the community of video-bloggers with Asperger’s syndrome on YouTube negotiate, re-conceptualize, and eventually transform Asperger’s identities?