Programming Plasticity as Embodied in Childhood: A Critical Genealogy of The Biology of Adversity and Resilience

Body and Society 29 (1):28-55 (2023)
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Abstract

The Biology of Adversity and Resilience coheres around the claim that early childhood experiences of stress and adversity get ‘under the skin’ and become ‘biologically embedded’, increasing the risk of negative health and behavioural outcomes later in life. Taking a genealogical approach to biosocial plasticity, this article situates The Biology of Adversity and Resilience within the arc of an apparatus of power/knowledge that emerged in tandem with liberal governmentality and which assumes childhood as a means of programming the future. The argument is that The Biology of Adversity and Resilience is a normative fiction: a socially scripted story that figures the ‘resilient’ child in a way that potentially sustains extant inequalities by prefiguring a future that is in step with the neoliberal present.

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