As a clinical category and a sociocultural phenomenon, autism occupies a prominent albeit ambiguous place in ongoing social science and humanities debates about empathy, intersubjectivity, intentionality, epistemological certainty, and moral agency. Autism is used as a counterexample to feeling empathy and understanding other people's beliefs and intentions. Alternatively, it is given as evidence of the limitless potential and neurodiversity of the human mind. This review examines the field of autism research relevant to anthropology of the senses. It considers the production of knowledge about autism as a clinically relevant category at the intersection of sense as culturally organized competence in meaning making and the senses as a culturally normative and institutionally ratified sensory and perceptual endowment. In such a distinction, both sense and the senses are paths toward and objects of the empirical understanding of autism.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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