Caring for Star-Children: Autism, Modernizing Families, and Ethics in Contemporary China


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Science, Technology, and Society


Based on 18 months of ethnographic research in homes, clinics, autism rehabilitation centers, and philanthropic organizations, this dissertation examines the social meanings and practices of autism caregiving in China. While China’s biomedical institutions and humanitarian organizations seek to foster new autism parental practices that they deem to signify true parental love and scientific modernity, this thesis argues that these efforts decontextualize the work of caring from the experiential and everyday realities of families living with autism, while increasing the burden of care for rural families in China. In paying close attention to the social, educational, and healthcare disparities distinctive to contemporary China, this project shows how patterns of autism caregiving are produced and rationalized.