Accepted Paper:

Technological devices and autistic spectrum disorder: an anthropological investigation about virtual sociality, autistic subjectivity and post-human debate  
Maria Concetta Lo Bosco (Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

Technology is changing the life of autists: while computer applications and devises are thought to improve their ability to communicate and to develop social skills, Internet and social networks are at the basis of Autistic Web Activism. Is the post-human a good concept to reflect about these topics?

Paper long abstract:

Internet, social networks and mobile devices represent nowadays a particular set of technological instrumentations that integrate our daily life. My research is based on Autistic Web Activism in Portugal and on the uses of technological devices in therapeutic context by people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (such as apps or specific programs for computer or iPad).

In my presentation I will reflect on both ethnography of web activism and with the issue of embodiment in relation to technological instrumentations, the so-called non-human actors.

In particular, I will focus on virtual networks and technological devices as two interesting objects of investigations, starting from the debates they are producing both in academic and public spaces, about the processes of transformation of subjectivity as well as about the phenomenon of virtual sociality.

Moreover, I will tackle the ways in which anthropological knowledge faces the relation between disability and virtual devices as well as the phenomenon of the social networks as virtual spaces where activists have found a way to achieve social and political visibility and a vehicle to organize social mobilization.

The point at stake is thus to reflect on how the post-human emerges within the field on medical anthropology and on how can be considered an useful concept to think about the interactions between people diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, their relatives and technologic instrumentations. Can the post-human be a good theoretical concept to reflect about autistic subjectivity, web activism and enhancement technologies?

Panel P029
The post human: what is it good for? Anthropological perspectives