Situating Paternal Effects in Epigenetic Research
There is a small, but growing, body of life science research that examines the role a father’s physiology and behaviours can have on the genetic expression of his offspring. This research is the amalgamation of two distinct domains of research: epigenetics and paternal effects. A rapidly expanding and influential field, epigenetics examines how environments influence gene expression in ways that do not alter DNA sequence. Its overlaps with paternal effects research, which studies non-genetic influence of a father on his offspring, may seem evident. And yet, research on paternal effects and epigenetics has only recently started to gain traction. Furthermore, it is still dwarfed by its sibling area of maternal effects and epigenetics. Using interviews and a document analysis, this project maps the area of paternal effects and epigenetics and asks how these two research areas intersect and how the domain is evolving. By tracing the histories and emerging futures of paternal effects and epigenetics, this project explores how research in this area reconceptualises, or reinforces, existing assumptions about reproduction, hereditary and parental responsibility, in both human and non-human bodies.
3 – Health, Biopolitics & Social Inequality