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Empire of Normality

Empire of Normality

Neurodiversity and Capitalism

by Robert Chapman

This is the rise of the anti-capitalist neurodiversity movement

'Groundbreaking ... [provides] a deep history of the invention of the 'normal' mind as one of the most oppressive tools of capitalism. To read it is to see the world more clearly' Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes

Neurodiversity is on the rise. Awareness and diagnoses have exploded in recent years, but we are still missing a wider understanding of how we got here and why. Beyond simplistic narratives of normativity and difference, this groundbreaking book exposes the very myth of the 'normal' brain as a product of intensified capitalism.

Exploring the rich histories of the neurodiversity and disability movements, Robert Chapman shows how the rise of capitalism created an 'empire of normality' that transformed our understanding of the body into that of a productivity machine.

Neurodivergent liberation is possible - but only by challenging the deepest logics of capitalism. Empire of Normality is an essential guide to understanding the systems that shape our bodies, minds and deepest selves - and how we can undo them.

Robert Chapman is a neurodivergent philosopher, writing on neurodiversity theory, madness and disability. They have taught at King’s College London, the University of Bristol, Sheffield Hallam and Durham University where they are currently an Assistant Professor in Critical Neurodiversity Studies. They blog at Psychology Today and at Critical Neurodiversity.

'This groundbreaking book fills a crucial gap in the discourse about neurodiversity, providing a deep history of the invention of the 'normal' mind as one of the most damaging and oppressive tools of capitalism, while not succumbing to the myths of the 'anti-psychiatry' movement. To read it is to see the world more clearly.'

- Steve Silberman, author of 'NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity'

'A vital book that kindles the flames of a Marxist neurodivergent revolution. Chapman boldly challenges us to envision a world liberated from neuronormative oppression, where dismantling capitalism is central to disabled, Mad, and neurodivergent liberation—a new radical approach to neurodiversity that is explicitly anti-capitalist.'

- Beatrice Adler-Bolton, co-author of 'Health Communism'

'An instant seminal text, Empire of Normality takes on the huge task of crafting a coherent, radical, Marxist approach to neurodivergence. Chapman impressively and critically assembles disparate philosophical, scientific and activist currents across time to carve out a new politics that pushes beyond liberal rights-based approaches, and guides us towards a liberated future.'

- Micha Frazer-Carroll, author of 'Mad World: The Politics of Mental Health'

'Empire of Normality argues that a radical politics of neurodiversity needs to be central to the struggle against capitalism. Chapman explains why this is necessary, not only for neurodivergent folk, but for our collective liberation. Thought provoking, challenging and compelling.'

- Professor Hel Spandler, Editor, 'Asylum: the radical mental health magazine'

'Engaging, impeccably researched, and a vital step in the emergence of a new social paradigm. Chapman uncovers the origins of the stifling norms that limit our collective potentials, and points the way toward a better and more creative future.'

- Nick Walker, author of 'Neuroqueer Heresies'

1 Rise of the machines 
2 The invention of normality 
3 Galton’s paradigm 
4 The eugenics movement 
5 The myths of anti-psychiatry 
6 Fordist normalisation 
7 The return of Galtonian psychiatry 
8 Post-Fordism as a mass disabling event 
9 The neurodiversity movement 
10 Cognitive contradictions 
11 After normality


Published by Pluto Press in Nov 2023
Paperback ISBN: 9780745348667
eBook ISBN: 9780745348674

140mm x 216mm

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