Quotations from my work

All the quotations on this page are from my 1998 Honours thesis and can be verified in the published version listed below. 

On Neurodiversity

JS: This is the first appearance of the word Neurodiversity in my thesis, Odd People In. I didn't offer a definition, as I thought the meaning was self-evident. Apparently so did everyone else. Except many had a different idea from me and thought it meant "Neurological Disability". I'm still trying to undo the damage!

For me, the significance of the “Autistic Spectrum” lies in its call for and anticipation of a “Politics of Neurodiversity”. The “Neurologically Different” represent a new addition to the familiar political categories of class/gender/race and will augment the insights of the Social Model of Disability. (p12)

The rise of Neurodiversity takes postmodern fragmentation one step further. Just as the postmodern era sees every once too solid belief melt into air, even our most taken-for-granted assumptions: that we all more or less see, feel, touch, hear, smell, and sort information, in more or less the same way, (unless visibly disabled) are being dissolved. (p12)


On Normality, Normalcy, Normal

The following is an excerpt from my 1998 Honours thesis, “Odd People In”. It is a necessarily brief summary of the work of Prof. Lennard J. Davis, a giant of the Disability Rights movement,  in his ground-breaking work,  “Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body”.

The construction of normalcy

Just as “disability” is a crystallisation of many social and social processes, so too is “normalcy”. Lennard Davis makes this point in a chapter on the history of Normalcy in Enforcing Normalcy. The following paragraphs are a summary of his ideas.

 Far from being the universal concept that we imagine it to be, the word “normal” only entered the English language in 1840. Prior to this the nearest approximation to its meaning was the classical notion of the Ideal. While our contemporary understanding of the Normal is not only descriptive, but prescriptive, the Ideal was considered to be a property of the gods, and not something humans could be expected to attain to. Disability theorists repeatedly stress that what we currently call the norm, is actually a rarely achieved ideal.

The concept of the norm emerged in tandem with the development of statistics as a tool of governance. A 19th century French statistician, Adolphe Quetelet, came up with the idea of averaging human features such as height and weight, and by corollary the concept of the “average man”. This notion was extended to the idea of a “moral average”, a handy justification for hegemonic claims of the rising middle-class. […]

Davis draws our attention to the extent to which the concept of the norm provided the necessary underpinning for the development of the modernist “Grand Theories” of Marxism, Freudianism, and Eugenics. In particular, Davis notes that all the major early statisticians were also eugenicists. This is hardly coincidental, since 

 "there is a real connection between figuring the statistical measure of humans, and then hoping to improve humans so that deviations from the norm diminish" (Davis:1995:30)

The Internet as a Prosthetic Device invented by Autistics


Davis, Lennard J. (1995)   Enforcing normalcy : disability, deafness, and the body Verso London, New York

Singer, Judy.  (1998)      Odd People In: The Birth of Community Amongst People on the “Autistic Spectrum”: a personal exploration of a New Social Movement based on Neurological Diversity.
A thesis presented to the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts Social Science (Honours), Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, University of Technology, Sydney, 1998

Singer, Judy (2016)          NeuroDiversity: The birth of an idea. Available for Kindle or in print https://www.amazon.com/NeuroDiversity-Birth-Idea-Judy-Singer-book/dp/B01HY0QTEE/
A reprint of the original thesis, with an introduction contemporary in 2016

No comments: