Neurodivergent Socialities

The Neurodivergent Socialities research group is an interdisciplinary undergraduate student network.

The neurodiversity movement encompasses those with conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, etc., as well as (more recently and somewhat controversially) those with chronic mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, long-term depression, and others. It tends to be radically accepting of self-diagnoses and critical of conventional psychopathological frameworks.

Mainstream Western discourse around neurodiversity frames neurodivergent experiences in highly medicalised terms of individual deficit. This precludes the exploration of neurodiversity as a normal aspect of human cognitive variation and as fundamentally embedded in social and political structures. Whilst remaining cognisant of the challenges of disability, this research group will contribute to de-pathologising neurodiversity by investigating questions around how neurodivergent states afford particular ways of relating to the world.

What unique forms of sociality emerge when neurodivergent people form communities of their own, e.g. in special interest or support groups? How do neurodivergent individuals form lives in societies with far less awareness of diagnostic frameworks than the West? How do families comprised primarily of neurodivergent individuals care for each other and navigate the world (especially relevant given the strong genetic basis of many neurodivergent conditions)? In large social settings such as universities, do neurodivergent individuals have a tendency to ‘seek one another out’? How are neurodivergent modes-of-being represented across literature? Can we trace interrelations between the neurodivergent and queer experience?

This research network will aim to start with relatively informal discussions and then move on to reading groups, workshops, blog posts, speaker events, and other initiatives as the group deems appropriate.

Please email Inika Murkumbi (she/her) if interested. You do not have to identify as neurodivergent to join, all perspectives are very welcome. Given the nature of our theme, we are especially keen to bring different disciplines into conversation – psychology, anthropology, politics, literature, history, linguistics, neuroscience, and more.

Events will aim to be as accessible as possible and please get in touch if you would like specific accommodations. Please find below some (not required or expected) readings that might be helpful for getting an idea of the theme and putting together preliminary ideas.

  • Jim Sinclair, 'Cultural Commentary: Being Autistic Together', Disability Studies Quarterly 30, 1 (2010): [online].
  • Robert Chapman, 'Critical Neurodiversity' Blog: [online].
  • Brett Heasman & Alex Gillespie, 'Neurodivergent Intersubjectivity: Distinctive Features of how Autistic People Create Shared Understanding', Autism 23, 4 (2018): [online].
    Specifically recommended: abstract, introduction and discussion sections.
  • Alyssa Hillary, 'Neurodiversity and cross-cultural communication', in Neurodiversity Studies : A New Critical Paradigm, ed. Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Nick Chown & Anna Stenning, (London: Routledge, 2020). [Access via iDiscover]
  • Alan Jurgens, 'Neurodiversity in a neurotypical world: an enactive framework for investigating autism and social institutions', in Neurodiversity Studies : A New Critical Paradigm, ed. Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvist, Nick Chown & Anna Stenning, (London: Routledge, 2020). [Access via iDiscover]

Inika Murkumbi (she/her)

Inika Murkumbi is a neurodivergent second-year undergraduate studying social anthropology (under the Human, Social, and Political Sciences Tripos) at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge.

She lives in Mumbai, India and is especially interested in medical anthropology, care, and globalisation. Tentatively, her third-year dissertation will explore the cross-generational care of ‘hearing voices’ elderly in urban India.


Image: Mosaic Tiles by UserID652234 via Pixabay. License.