, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 131–152 | Cite as

The affective labour of autism neuroscience: Entangling emotions, thoughts and feelings in a scientific research practice

  • Des Fitzgerald
Original Article


This article extends discussions on the role of emotion in scientific lives by showing how the emotional commitments of researchers (here, psychologists and neuroscientists) can play a specifically constitutive or generative role. Autism research is an area where the tricky intertwinements of subjects, thoughts, interactions and bodies can be remarkably explicit: the article uses this case to show how researchers’ emotions can actually mediate transactions between intellectual/scientific problems and more material/bodily concerns. The article argues that autism research shows the on-going presence of affect in scientific subjectivities; in particular, it shows how scientific subjects sometimes constitute intellectual projects through a sensitivity to their own bodies and emotions. Gathering these concerns together, the article extends recent discussions of body work and emotion work by Natasha Myers and Wilson, and also draws on the ‘emotional’ aspects of Whitehead's process philosophy.


autism emotion neuroscience psychology whitehead feminist materialism 



I would particularly like to thank Nikolas Rose, Megan Clinch, and Fran Tonkiss for comments on earlier drafts of this article. The article was greatly strengthened by reviewer and editorial comments from Subjectivity. This research was supported by a Research Studentship from the London School of Economics.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Des Fitzgerald
    • 1
  1. 1.Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus UniversityAarhus C.Denmark

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