“Neurodiverse Afro-Fabulations” focuses on the neglected cognitive biopolitics in post-Reconstruction debates over African American progress and full democratic citizenship, in order to trace an unmarked African American neurodiverse disability history, or the antiableist imagining of neurological, cognitive, and psychological variations that existed before and persisted alongside the emergence of modern evolutionary- and hereditary-based diagnostic categories of intelligence. At the same time, “Neurodiverse Afro-Fabulations” argues for the importance of an abjected Blackness in the critical genealogy of modern neurodiversity, which has largely been associated with recent movements to recognize people with autism or ADHD and has focused on the middle-class white child. Through an examination of Pauline Hopkins’s essay series for the Colored American Magazine, “Famous Women of the Negro Race” (1901–2), this essay first recovers Hopkins’s ambivalent relation to the compulsory neurotypicality of racial uplift politics. “Neurodiverse Afro-Fabulations” then turns to Hopkins’s novel Contending Forces (1900) to foreground how her fiction is interrupted by scenes of neurodiverse Afro-fabulation that do not simply refute claims of Black inferiority through a representational politics of counterfacts, but fabulate, exaggerate, and deliberately foreground eccentric, excessive, and “irrational” ways of knowing that have their roots in diasporic epistemologies. Ultimately, “Neurodiverse Afro-Fabulations” raises questions about the way an engagement with a history of Black neurodiversity affects how we think about the political, especially as antiblackness and cognitive disability have often served as overlapping technologies in the formation of a white liberal humanism.

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