Elizabeth Fein

Associate Professor
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

206 Rockwell Hall
Phone: 412-396-4852


Ph.D., University of Chicago, Department of Comparative Human Development
Bio and Expertise


I received my Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Grateful for the opportunity to receive clinical training in an interdisciplinary department, I aim to support other clinician-scholars who wish to train in multiple epistemic traditions. I bring together approaches and insights from psychology, anthropology, and science and technology studies, to better understand how people make sense of the world around them, and how these sense-making activities transform the world in turn.

I focus particularly on psychiatric and neurodevelopmental diagnoses and the people who inhabit and shape these categorizations. My recent research explores the lived experience of Asperger's Syndrome and related autism spectrum conditions among youth and young adults in the United States. My upcoming book, Living on the Spectrum: Autism and Youth in Community (due out in 2020 from NYU Press), examines how individuals affected by autism spectrum conditions draw on broader discourses about biomedicine, identity and technology to make sense of this complex and contested diagnostic category. The volume Autism in Translation: An Intercultural Conversation on Autism Spectrum Conditions (2019, Palgrave Macmillan, through the Culture, Mind and Society series of the Society for Psychological Anthropology), co-edited with Clarice Rios, examines autism in its cultural, historical, political and economic contexts.

My current project, Social Connection through Creative Community: An Ethnographic Study of Participation in the Furry Fandom Among Youth on the Autism Spectrum, is an ethnographic study of autism and other neurodevelopmental differences within a creative subculture. I am also conducting in-depth, person-centered interviews with therians (those who identify as a non-human animal) and otherkin (those who identify as a fictional or mythological creature).


• Clinical Enthography
• Cultural Psychology
• Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology
• Neurodevelopmental Disorders
• Science and Technology Studies

Recent publications


Fein, E. (2020). Living on the Spectrum: Autism and Youth in Community, New York University Press.

Roberts, S., Davies-Kneis, C. B., Plante, C., Reysen, S., Fein, E., Roberts, S., Davies-Kneis, C. B., Plante, C., Reysen, S., Fein, E., McHugh, R., & Gerbasi, K. (2020). Closet? What closet? A qualitative investigation of furries' expression of sexual orientation in the fandom... Furries among us 3: Essays by furries about furries. Thurston Howl Publications.

Rios C. & Fein, E. (Eds.). (2019). Autismo em tradução - uma conversa intercultural sobre condições do espectro autista. Rio de Janeiro: Papéis Selvagens. (Portuguese language edition of Autism in Translation)

Fein, E. & Rios, C. (Eds.). (2018). Autism in translation: An intercultural conversation on autism spectrum conditions. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fein, E. (2018). Autism as a Mode of Engagement. Autism in Translation: An Intercultural Conversation on Autism Spectrum Conditions. Palgrave Macmillan.

Fein, E. (2018). The unicorn and the trash bag: A defense of wariness [response to Des Fitzgerald's Tracing Autism]. Somatosphere. http://somatosphere.net/2018/02/book-forum-tracing-autism.html.  

Gerbasi, K. C., Fein, E., Plante, C. N., Reysen, S., & Roberts, S. E. (2017). Furries, therians and otherkin, oh my! What do all those words mean, anyway? In T. Howl (Ed.), Furries Among Us 2: More Essays On Furries By Furries. Lansing, MI: Thurston Howl Publications. (pp. 162-176).

Fein, E. (2017). [Book review] Recovery's edge: an ethnography of mental health care and moral agency. By Neely L. Myers. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press. British Journal of Psychology, 108(1): 220-221

Fein, E. (2016). Our circuits, ourselves: What the autism spectrum can tell us about the Research Domain Criteria project and the neurogenetic transformation of diagnosis. BioSocieties, 11(2) 175-198. 

Fein, E. (2015). Everyday Ethics: Voices from the Front Line of Community Psychiatry. By Paul Brodwin (review). Religious Studies Review, 41 (3), 105, doi: 10.1111/rsr.12230_3.

Fein, E. (2015). Making meaningful worlds: role-playing subcultures and the autism apectrum. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 39(2): 299-321.

Fein, E. (2015). "No-one has to be your friend": Asperger's Syndrome and the vicious cycle of social disorder in late modern identity markets. Ethos, 43(1): 82-107.

Fein, E. (2011). Innocent machines: Asperger's Syndrome and the neurostructural self. In:Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences (Advances in Medical Sociology, Volume 12). Martyn Pickersgill and Ira van Keulen, eds. Emerald Group Publishing.

Fein, E. (2011). Together in transformation: culture, community and symbolic roleplay at an "Aspie" summer camp. In Autism Through the Lens of the Social Sciences. Morris Fred, ed. Easter Seals.

Other scholarly work


  • Approaches to Psychopathology
  • Psychology of Cultural Diversity
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Psychological Disorders
  • Clinical Ethnography

I hope to offer courses on working with clients who have neurodevelopmental differences, and on the impact of technology on identity development