91. Epigenetic Models of Plasticity in The Global South: Developments, Diffractions, Decolonization

Natasha Rooney, Deakin University; Maurizio Meloni, Deakin University;

Environmental epigenetics is the study of environmentally-influenced mechanisms that control gene expression. It shows that the genetic code is imprinted by a range of environmental elements such as pollution, toxic exposure, nutrition and, potentially, psychosomatic elements like trauma and stress. Albeit the origins of environmental epigenetics are mostly rooted in laboratory work in the Global North, the Global South has recently seen important developments in the science of epigenetics. These include attempt at hybridization of epigenetic knowledge with non-Western medical traditions based on shared notions of the body-permeable (India, China); integration of biological and economics findings looking at early life shocks in Southern populations; increasing interest from Indigenous researchers to document the transgenerational effect of colonial violence and construct political platform for reparation. Additionally, the maternal body features heavily in intergenerational health discussions while notions of the environment are often tied to constructions of race, gender, and class. This regular oral paper session asks how and in what ways epigenetic developments and notions of the body-permeable are being made, remade, contested and diffracted within the Global South. In addition, attending to the theme of the conference, it analyses how the impact of the epigenetic knowledge plays a role in assessing colonial legacies and revitalising harmed bodies and ecologies across temporal and geographical landscapes in response to health and trauma. Papers on one or more of these questions are invited based on studies of single societies or comparative international contexts.

Contact: nrooney@deakin.edu.au, maurizio.meloni@deakin.edu.au

Keywords: Genetics, Genomics, Biotechnology, Medicine and Healthcare, Decolonial and Postcolonial STS, Epigenetics; plasticity; postcolonial science; history of medicine

Published: 04/07/2023