Society for Medical Anthropology
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
Alexandre Larivée (Université Laval)
Angela Filipe (McGill University)
Vulnerability and maladaptive trajectories are keywords at the centre of emerging agendas in environmental epigenetics and neuroanatomical research focused on early childhood brain plasticity and DOHaD agendas more broadly. In these models, early childhood abuse (ECA) is thought to be materialized in the form of neurobiological traits in children’s brains and manifested later in life through a complex set of risk behaviours, ranging from irritability to suicidal ideation and behaviours with neurobiological traits as the key correlating factors.
Kinship plays complex and uncertain roles in these models, seen as both a risk factor (abuse by a family member) and a protective factor (providing the care that can unsettle a “maladaptive trajectory”). Kin, furthermore, provide the evidence of ECA through their participation in psychological autopsies about the lives and experiences of the deceased. Drawing on long-term research with a multidisciplinary team of researchers – with expertise in environmental epigenetics and neurobiological risk – interested in the effects of ECA on long-term mental health outcomes and interviews with family members of people who have committed suicide, I will consider kinship as a specific ecology of molecular risk and repair. These forms of “chemical kinship” (Agard Jones 2016) are considered to play out on multiple timelines, across generations, and with varied effects on individual life trajectories. Within these narratives of porosity and entanglements of the lives of kin, I will examine what is considered, first, to “get inside” (Roberts 2017) and what remains.