Book Forum––Des Fitzgerald’s Tracing Autism: Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and the Affective Labor of Neuroscience

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Des Fitzgerald writes of his book, Tracing Autism, “This is a book about scientists talking about their own practice, in tones that are beset by ambiguity, uncertainty, complexity, and even some anxiety” (9).  This is true, and after reading the book one might find the description a little understated.  By now the idea that neuroscience, any science, is fraught with uncertainty and complexity is the baseline for science studies and kindred fields of study.  In Tracing Autism: Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and the Affective Labor of Neuroscience, Des Fitzgerald uses this insight as a point of departure and puts these concepts to work––to trace the work they do––in (and through) the words of his scientist-interlocutors.  Words are key.  He structures his chapters around quoted speech which he amplifies through his interpretations, reflections, restatements, and rebuttals, which makes the book feel like part transcript, part therapy session notes, and part eavesdropping on a wholly intriguing conversation.   The following are a diverse and careful set of commentaries on Tracing Autism––we hope you enjoy.



The Unicorn and the Trash Bag: A Defense of Wariness
Elizabeth Fein
Duquesne University

What Can We Do with Uncertainty?
Matthew Wolf-Meyer
Binghamton University

Social Science vs. Neuroscience?  Epistemologies and Stereotypes
M. Ariel Cascio
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM) and McGill University

Feeling Autism Neuroscience
Michael Orsini
University of Ottawa

Beyond “Paranoia” and “Reparation”: Tracing Autism Neuroscience
Francisco Ortega
University of Rio de Janeiro


Bad Surprises
Des Fitzgerald
Cardiff University


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