Cara Idriss

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York U.

Grant number

Gr. 10119

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Idriss, Cara (New York U.) "Constructing "Modern" Autisms in France: University Accommodations versus Radical Inclusion"

Two divergent “modern” French autisms are emerging, displacing an outdated and internationally condemned French mother-blaming psychoanalytic approach to the condition which considered the appropriate place for autistic people to be institutions, rather than mainstream public schools. One is represented by a top-down government-funded national initiative based in Toulouse, France, l’Université Aspie-Friendly (the Aspie-Friendly University). Aspie-Friendly aims to turn autistic adults into citizens through university education and eventual employment in the IT sector. Another, led by autistic activists from CLE Autistes advocates for French society itself to modernize by accepting autism, and all forms of difference, including gendered and racial diversity, without precondition. This project asks how young autistic adults, especially university students receiving support from Aspie-Friendly, navigate this complicated terrain. How are these students constructing their own category of autism, one which best represents themselves and their needs? Attendant to a historical context of Franco-American autism relations (Briggs 2019) and longstanding French anxieties vis-à-vis “backwardness” and the achievement of modernity through American science and technology, this dissertation research privileges the perspectives and experiences of autistic interlocutors.