Sensory experience and emotion

In my dissertation, I combine perspectives and methods from philosophy and the qualitative social sciences to study how autistic people make sense of their sensory and emotional experience and examine how this relates to scientific and cultural discourses about autism.

Research project

Autistic self-advocates have challenged biomedical perspectives on autism through the concept of neurodiversity. This refers to the idea that there is no single healthy type of mind, neurocognitive functioning, or being-in-the-world. Through social and relational models of disability, the neurodiversity movement renews questions into what kind of health care, accommodation and social change would be meaningful for autistic flourishing. The movement also calls for a more thorough and intersectional engagement with autistic lived experience in research about autism.

Phenomenology is a mode of doing philosophy which is particularly suited for the study of lived experience. Critical phenomenological approaches can complement the neurodiversity commitment to autism as an embodied and meaningful being-in-the-world, rather than a deficit in relation to a non-autistic norm.

Drawing on neurodiversity and a critical phenomenological approach, I focus on what has been narratively and theoretically pushed to the margins of autistic lived experience, namely embodiment and affect. Stigmatised conceptions tend to portray autism as a disaffected and disembodied retreating into the mind and away from the social. “Disaffected” in this context refers to a perceived lack in emotion, feeling, expression, being moved and moving. How do autistic lived experiences relate to and problematise these dominant ways of knowing autism as well as broader normativities which pathologize minds, bodies and affects?

Previously, I took the research master’s in Philosophy at Radboud University (specialisation in Philosophical Anthropology) and the bachelor’s in Philosophy at the University of Groningen (specialisation in Ethics, and Social & Political Philosophy), The Netherlands.

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If you would like to correspond or have questions about my research project, feel free to reach out to me.