Neuroprovincialism, neurocosmopolitanism, and the liminal nature of the neurodiversity movement

Before I start, I highly recommend reading Dr. Nick Walker’s book Neuroqueer Heresies alongside this blog article. In particular, the chapter on Neurocosmopolitanism. It has heavily inspired this piece, and it would not exist without it.

Liminality is essentially the point of transition between two states. If one were to walk from the living room to the hallway, the doorway would represent the liminal point between the two rooms.

The neurodiversity movement then, can be considered the liminal point between neuroprovincialism and neurocosmopolitanism.

Prior to the neurodiversity movement’s creation, the world can be considered largely to have fallen under provincialism. There is no equity, cultural neuronormativity was the standard by which everyone was measured, all that fell outside of that standard was considered deviant, or broken. The pathology paradigm ruled our viewpoint. It was a narrow-minded world lacking the sophistication of an equitable society.

The future that the neurodoversity movement ultimately works towards, is what can be considered a neurocosmopolitan society. In such a society, no single neurological identity is considered standard. Terms like “neurotypical” and “neurodivergent” cease to be relevant, because the world recognises and actively celebrates the diversity of minds. We are still a long way from that future, but change is happening.

Thus, the neurodiversity movement can be considered the liminal point between the two. It serves as a doorway between two different worlds, one in which autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people are pathologised, oppressed, and hated, and another where we are treated as equals, seen as a fact of life, and not something to be fixed or eradicated.

When we consider liminality, doorways between places, we have to consider whether that doorway is suitable for all people to use.

Some will choose simply not to pass through the liminal space. Many of us are terrified of the unknown, and stay with what is familiar, no matter how detrimental. Some will leap forth, embracing a new state of existence. But what of those for whom the door is not designed?

It is known that the neurodiversity movement still has work to be done when it comes to fully including particular minority groups. Often non-speaking members of the movement find themselves talked over, although many are working to reduce that. BIPoC individuals have long been the victims of provincialist societies racism and oppression, and sadly such prejudice and bigotry can still be found in various movements for societal change.

Simply put, it is vital for us to ensure that the doorway can accommodate all who wish to pass through. If the neurodiversity movement can not serve as an appropriate liminal space for all, then a neurocosmopolitan society will be impossible to achieve.

Each of us contains inherent prejudice, passed down from the old society. If we wish to move through this liminal place, and emerge into the light of a new world for all, we must dismantle the thinking of yesteryear.

Dismantle the egotistical side of ourselves that centres all conversation around the ‘me’, and extend our viewpoint and attention to include every voice. We all have something to say, but we don’t all have the privilege of a platform.

The first step to building any doorway, is to design one that all may use should they wish.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an Autistic consultant and trainer, educating on the topics of Autistic experience, mental health, and drug and alcohol use. He has several years experience in this area as well as personal lived experience. You can find out more about his consultancy services at www.dghneurodivergentconsultancy.co.uk

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