MECHANICAL INCLINATIONS: ROBOTS, AUTISM, AND RHETORICS OF BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 11:30am to 1pm

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Dr. M. Remi Yergeau (they/them)
Associate Professor of Digital Studies and Writing from the University of Michigan.

Robots are frequently positioned as the future ofbehavioral therapy for autistic children. Therapeuticdiscourse on robot-assisted therapy frequentlydraws upon dehumanizing metaphors that havedominated autism’s short clinical history. This talkconsiders how asexual rhetorics might productivelyredirect our thinking about robot-autist interactionsas well as about dismantling oppressive clinicalpractices. Drawing upon the work of autisticdisability justice activists, I will examine what itmight mean to reclaim autistic people’s so-called“mechanical inclinations” as neuroqueer tendingstoward unconventional intimacies.

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