Gregory Hollin undertook his Mildred Blaxter fellowship from June 2014 to June 2015 at the University of Nottingham, having undertaken his PhD at the same institution. He is now a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds.
What was the focus of your work?
I chose the title Locating autism: Diagnosing a social disorder for my fellowship and there were really three key aims. The first was to write up research conducted during my PhD, a socio-historical analysis concerning constructions of autism in the cognitive and social (neuro)sciences. Of specific interest here were questions concerning autism as a form of social disorder: How did disparate scientific disciplines come to understand individuals with autism as suffering from a form of social disorder? How is this vision of social disorder maintained in practice? How is autism framing broader discourses of social health and social illness during the early twenty-first century? The second aim was to undertake novel research examining autism diagnostic sessions in order to consider how autism is achieved at a particular moment and within a particular setting. My final aim was to write further proposals to get another job!
What did the Mildred Blaxter fellowship offer you that you would not otherwise have been able to do?
The thing which the fellowship offers, which is incredibly precious, is space. There is space to write up research you’ve already conducted meaning that you can (begin to) make the most of all that work that went into your PhD. There is also space to think about exactly what you want to do next, whether that be a research track (and if so, what that research will be on), a lectureship, or so forth. The fellowship also gives you space in the moment: as can be seen below I wrote a few bits and pieces which aren’t immediately related to autism – although are now feeding into that work – and this was facilitated by having the time and space to read and talk to colleagues. I don’t think it can really be overemphasised how important this space is.
What are you doing now?
I am currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Leeds and, having elected to at least try and follow a research path, applying for further grants to continue my research on autism. Hopefully this is all being made much easier by the experience that I’ve gained as a Mildred Blaxter fellow!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for a Mildred Blaxter fellowship?
I would firmly encourage people to go for it – I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity. I would also encourage people to think carefully about who their mentor is – I experienced very little ‘top down’ interference from the Foundation (which was wonderful!) and that makes your relationship with your mentor particularly important. (My mentor, Alison Pilnick, was predictably fantastic.)
- Hollin, G.J.S. and Pilnick, A. (2015) Infancy, autism, and the emergence of a socially disordered body. Social Science and Medicine 143: 279-286.
- Hollin, G.J.S. and Pearce, W. (2015) Tension between scientific certainty and meaning complicates communication of IPCC reports. Nature Climate Change 5: 753-756.
- Giraud, E.H.S. and Hollin, G.J.S. (in press). Care, laboratory beagles, and an affective utopia. Theory, Culture and Society.
- Hollin, G.J.S. (in press). To obey and to tell: Review of Foucault, M., 2014. On the Government of Living: Lectures at the Collège de France 1979-1980. History of the Human Sciences.