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Neurodiversity in the city: Exploring the complex geographies of belonging and exclusion in urban space

Geographical Journal – 2023

Neurodiversity in the city: Exploring the complex geographies of belonging and exclusion in urban space

AUTHOR(S)

Therese Kenna
Department of Geography, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

ABSTRACT

In this paper I develop an urban social geography of neurodiversity that attends to the plurality of neurodiversity and of neurodiverse experiences of the city. Geographers have remained relatively silent on issues of neurodiversity in the city and, as such, the perspectives and experiences of neurodiverse individuals remain vastly unreported. The city is a crucial spatial context of everyday life for those who are neurodiverse as it can present challenges due to its complex, unpredictable and fluid nature. Drawing on recent calls for the development of a relational geography of disability, this paper explores the intricate geographies of neurodiversity in the city, revealing ways urban spaces become spaces of belonging or exclusion for those who are neurodiverse. Urban spaces are experienced in diverse and complex ways, linked to a multitude of neurological differences and their intersections. The paper reveals social, spatial and temporal practices and processes through which urban spaces acquire meaning for those who are neurodiverse. The research offers important insights for urban planning and policy, particularly in terms of thinking complexly about neurodiversity and associated questions of inclusion and exclusion in the city. The paper concludes with a discussion of some future research directions for an urban geography of neurodiversity.

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