Speaker: Eiko Ikegami (New School for Social Research)

Abstract: My talk will be a partial report of the product of an unexpected research detour, an eye opening that formed me to go beyond my taken-for-granted perception and feeling as a “neuro-typical,” a term an autistic person might use to describe me. It was through an accidental encounter with the intense world of autistic adults that my eyes were opened, in an unusual meeting place, on the corners and streets of virtual neighborhoods in Second Life. This was a puzzling phenomenon. Autistic people are known to have various difficulties in communicating with others. But in a virtual world, they formed a long-lasting self-support group where they meet for two hours every week, for the last six or seven years. The first-person narratives of autistic experiences are different from our social and academic conceptions of people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. I will discuss what I have learned by observing avatars on the spectrum for the last five years, which reminds me of Rashomon, a classic Japanese movie by Kurosawa.


  • David Fergusson, New College in the University of Edinburgh
  • Michael Solomon, RWJ Barnabas University Hospital & Medical Society of New Jersey
  • Olaf Witkowski, Earth-Life Science Institute
  • Jeff Ames, Rutgers University
  • Monica Manolescu, University of Strasbourg
  • Nicolaas Rupke, Institute for Advanced Study
  • Susan Schneider, The University of Connecticut
  • Ayako Fukui, Araya Brain Imaging Tokyo
  • Yuko Ishihara, University of Copenhagen
  • Piet Hut, Institute for Advanced Study
  • Eiko Ikegami, New School of Social Research

Thursday, February 16, 12:30 p.m.
Institute for Advanced Study, 1 Einstein Drive, West Building Seminar Room, 2nd floor
Host by the Program in Interdisciplinary Studies