Challenges the discourses of autism awareness campaigns for the “logic of violence” they often conceal

Look Inside


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.

Anne McGuire is Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Equity Studies Program at New College, University of Toronto.

“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, author 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....”
— Melanie Yergeau, University of Michigan

Winner: 2015 Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities

- Tobin Siebers Prize

"McGuire’s book is a valuable contribution to critical disability studies and bioethics for several reasons. The key contribution is McGuire’s excellent critique of autism advocacy, which successfully demonstrates that any advocacy failing to advocate for autistic people is complicit in their marginalisation and in the normalisation of the violence committed against them."

- Tereza Hendl

¨This is one of the more interesting titles written about autism in recent years.¨
--Choice Reviews 

- JD Neal

"Noting that mainstream 'advocacy' so often seems to elide or ignore the very people it claims to be helping, McGuire also points out the extensive work autistic activists have done to push back against this damage and situates War on Autism as a text that might further unpack the violence of certain rhetorical approaches to autism."
--Disability Studies Quarterly

- Disability Studies Quarterly

"Anne McGuire’s War on Autism is an astute, searing analysis of autism, and autism advocacy. The book is a deeply unsettling and convincing portrayal of the complicity of contemporary western culture, and the role that culture plays in the violence done to autistic people."
--Disability & Society

- Disability & Society

Listen: War on Autism reviewed on NeurodiveCast with Alex Kronstein (Link) | 12/12/2017Read: Anne McGuire in The Ottawa Citizen (Link) | 4/20/2016