October 1, 2021

The Friday Morning Seminar on October 1, 2021 features Professor Cheryl Mattingly (University of Southern California) presenting with her co-author Stephanie Keeney Parks (PhD Candidate, University of California, Los Angeles), a talk titled “Haunted by the Future -- Autism and the Spectre of Prison: Configuring Race and Disability in the African American Community”. 

This talk (based on a chapter in a forthcoming book) interrogates how autism and mass incarceration are configured as a syndemic in Black communities in the United States. Autism – a mental health classification that has taken on epidemic proportions in recent decades within the US and even globally – intersects in threatening ways with the epidemic of mass imprisonment within the African American community. When affixed to Black children (especially boys), autism generates danger. Our primary focus is how African American parents of children (especially boys) respond to this threat. We explore the inoculating strategies they employ as they try to protect the future of their children from the life-threatening spectre of an adulthood characterized by chronic unemployment and potential incarceration. Our approach is broadly phenomenological. We also suggest that hauntology offers one generative direction for investigating autism in syndemic terms. The ghost that truly haunts is not the disability category itself but the carceral space it beckons. 

Cheryl Mattingly, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Southern California and the Departments of Anthropology and Philosophy and History of Ideas, Aarhus University.  Her major interests are the anthropology of ethics (especially virtue ethics and the ethics of care), medical and psychological anthropology, phenomenology and hermeneutics, narrative, chronic illness and disability, the culture of biomedicine, health disparities, race and minority health.  Her primary research has been in the United States. Major awards and honors include an honorary doctorate from Aarhus University (2018), a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2017-2018), a Dean's Influential Visiting Scholar of Social Science, UCLA (2016) and a Dale T. Mortensen Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Studies, Aarhus University (2013-2015).  Publication awards include: the 2015 New Millennium Book Prize (Society for Medical Anthropology, AAA) for Moral Laboratories, the 2011 Stirling Book Prize (Society for Psychological Anthropology, AAA) for The Paradox of Hope, the 2000 Victor Turner Book Prize (Society for Humanistic Anthropology, AAA) for Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots and the 1999 Polgar Essay Prize for “In Search of the Good” (Society for Medical Anthropology). She is co-editor, with Lone Gron, of Imagistic Care: Growing Old in a Precarious World (Forthcoming, Fordham Press).

Stephanie Keeney Parks is a doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar as well as a Cota Robles Fellow. Stephanie earned her master's degree in medical anthropology from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where she is the recipient of the Magis award. Stephanie’s research centers on the everyday lives of Black parents who have children with autism. Stephanie is interested in centering the Black parent’s narrative and experience as the expert to decenter white ideologies on health, healthcare, disability, and Black culture. Her research stems from her experiences as a Black woman, wife, and mother of two children. Stephanie’s oldest child is diagnosed with autism. Her family is featured in the award winning documentary In A Different Key; A True Story of Love, Difference, and the Fight to Belong.

For videos of previous seminars, please contact Sadeq Rahimi.