Jana Vanecek

A Mountain - in my mind—

15.02.2023 | Research Blog Genoa | ChatGPT: neurodiversity movement as a form of “sweaty concept” —-> Sara Ahmed

Sara Ahmed's work is characterised by her use of "sweaty concepts," or concepts that are often taken for granted and yet are deeply implicated in power relations and social hierarchies. These concepts are often used to silence or marginalise certain perspectives, but can be reappropriated and reimagined as a form of resistance.

Ahmed's work on "sweaty concepts" provides a valuable framework for understanding the neurodiversity movement as a form of resistance against ableist cultural norms. According to Ahmed, sweaty concepts are those that generate discomfort or resistance when they are introduced into a social context. One specific example of how the concept of neurodiversity challenges dominant cultural narratives is by recognising that mental health conditions are not solely biological or individual problems, but are rather shaped by social and environmental factors such as discrimination, poverty, and trauma. Through the lens of sweaty concepts, the neurodiversity movement becomes a powerful political force that challenges dominant cultural narratives and exposes the ways in which these narratives are used to maintain social and political power.

Ahmed also notes that sweaty concepts have the potential to generate affective responses, both positive and negative. In the case of the neurodiversity movement, the affective response may be one of discomfort or resistance, particularly for those who have internalised ableist norms and values. However, the movement also has the potential to generate positive affective responses, such as feelings of acceptance and belonging for neurodivergent individuals who have long felt marginalised or excluded.

Moreover, the neurodiversity movement emphasises the importance of self-determination and autonomy for individuals with mental health conditions, recognising the social and cultural factors that contribute to mental distress. This sweaty concept challenges the traditional medical model of mental health care and creates alternative forms of community and support, promoting social justice.

Furthermore, the neurodiversity movement reimagines the concept of "normality" itself, challenging the idea that there is a single standard for what constitutes "normal" thinking or experiencing. By embracing the diversity of human brains, the movement challenges ableist norms and creates new possibilities for social and political change.

Overall, Sara Ahmed's concept of "sweaty concepts" provides a valuable framework for understanding the neurodiversity movement as a form of political resistance. By reappropriating neurosciences, challenging dominant cultural narratives and promoting social justice, the movement creates new forms of identity and community for neurodivergent individuals.