GSE Brown Bag Lecture Series: Robin Roscigno

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 11:45am - 1:00pm

GSE Lecture Hall

Neuroqueerness as Fugitive Practice: Reading Against the Grain of Applied Behavioral Analysis Scholarship

In its relatively short lifespan, applied behavior analysis—the shaping of human behavior through operant conditioning—has risen to a state of eminence in the teaching and treatment of autistic children. This lecture will read the archive of behaviorist scholarship with and against the grain to two ends. First, this talk will explore how behaviorism can be understood as a form of what gender studies scholar Kyla Schuller terms biophilanthropy, a type of biopolitics in which the technologies of control are rebranded as philanthropic ventures.  Secondly, this lecture will use biopolitics to demonstrate how the educational good of "inclusion" can mark some (the includable) for life, some (the nonincludable) for (social) death, and some for violence aimed at recuperating a normative future. I use a case study from the corpus of behaviorist scholarship, “Effects of Punishment Procedures on the Self-Stimulatory Behavior of an Autistic Child,” to demonstrate how futurity is leveraged to seduce the teacher into the biopolitical project. My second use of this archive is to engage in a critical rereading of the text, locating moments of embodied resistance by the subject of the experiment. I make critical connections between the overlooked resistances within the archive of behaviorism and place these fugitive practices in continuity with contemporary notions of “neuroqueer(ing)” theorized by autistic scholars and activists.  


Robin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration at Rutgers Graduate School of Education. Her current academic work uses a historical-sociological approach to study early behaviorism and the subsequent rise of behaviorism as a technology of social control, particularly as it relates to schooling for disabled children. She has presented her work at the American Educational Research Association and the American Educational Studies Association and recently published an article in Educational Studies. Robin's academic work is representative of her activist commitments and local advocacy against restraint and seclusion in schools. Robin facilitates statewide trainings in the state of New Jersey, through the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN), on the topic of bodily autonomy for disabled youth in schools. Additionally, Robin conducts professional development for teachers on alternatives to coercive practices like restraint and seclusion and serves in a DOE think tank on emergency planning for students with disabilities. Robin also designs and leads workshops and trainings on neurodiversity for students, parents, educators, and other professionals throughout New Jersey with the organization she co-founded—New Jersey Neurodiversity—and brings a disability justice framework to all of her educational and activist work. 


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Who to contact:

Colleen McDermott