My name is Paras Arora, and I am a Ph.D. student at the Department of Anthropology, Stanford University. As a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist, I am particularly committed to understanding how people acknowledge the pain of others through care that might be ethically fraught with the presence of violence within it. As a visual artist, I am drawn to care precisely because of this ethical uncertainty which is often failed by language.
My doctoral research attends to how families of autistic individuals grapple with the aging and continued dependency of autistic adults in the absence of state-mandated social support in India. Ever since Autism became acknowledged as a separate diagnostic category in the late 1980s in India, the curative trajectory of early diagnosis, early rehabilitation, and early outcome emerged as a potent antidote to the distress of families. Yet a majority of autistic individuals and their families fell out of this curative trajectory due to a lack of access to rehabilitative care. As the earliest diagnosed autistic individuals began entering their adulthood in the 2010s, their families began experimenting with the regimen, temporality, and location of care that they now had to perform for autistic individuals as adults. By ethnographically exploring these experiments with care, my research promises to theorize autism as a shared condition, care as an experiment in ethics, and family as a contested and capacious mode of being in India. Moreover, through experiments with ethnography itself, my research seeks to chronicle the ways in which autistic individuals’ own aspirations, relations, and commitments come to unsettle these experiments with care.
My research has been supported by the Society for Psychological Anthropology, Robert Lemelson Foundation, Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, and Fondation pour l’étude des relations internationales en Suisse.
During the 2022-23 academic year, I have the honor of being the South Asia Working Group Fellow at the Stanford Center for South Asia, and the Graduate Student Coordinator for The Medical Humanities: Linda Randall Meier Research Workshop at the Stanford Humanities Center.