Michael B. Bakan

Ethnomusicological Perspectives on Autism, Neurodiversity, and Music Therapy

Michael B. Bakan


In this article, I suggest that a provisional paradigm shift from disability as pathology to disability as neurodiversity has the potential to productively resituate the epistemological orientations of music therapy, both as a field of inquiry and a domain of practice. I draw from my own work on the ethnomusicology of autism, as well as from research and writings in disability studies and autistic self-advocacy, in proposing that the relativistic foundations of ethnomusicology offer a potentially useful alternative and complement to the principally treatment-directed foundations of music therapy.


Autism; autism spectrum; Asperger's syndrome; neurodiversity, autistic self-advocacy, ethnomusicology, Artism Ensemble, E-WoMP, ethnography, disability studies; Balinese gamelan; relativism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15845/voices.v14i3.799


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Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy (ISSN 1504-1611)