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Accepted Paper:

(Re) Configuring the exposome: a study of urban violence, gender, and mental health in London.  
Rosie Mathers (University College London) Sahra Gibbon (University College London (UCL))

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the emerging concept of the exposome, as the ‘environmental compliment to the genome’ (Miller 2021). Using new data on urban violence, gender, and mental health in London, we explore the possibilities and limitations of the exposome and its utility for interdisciplinary research.

Paper long abstract:

The ‘exposome’ has been heralded by frontrunners in the fields of public health, cancer research, and epidemiology (Miller 2021; Wild 2005) as a framework with the potential to unify the ‘omics’ sciences into a complete structure for investigating environmental health. Defined as all the exposures (social, behavioural, and environmental) experienced over the lifecourse, ‘the exposome’ aims to provide a complete picture of health-related exposures occurring outside and inside the body, and the complex ways they are related (Neufcort et al 2022). However, measurements and definitions of the social in exposome research are often conceptually simplistic, empirically thin and lack an understanding of the dynamic and situated complexities of social variables (Neufcourt et al 2022; Roberts 2017; Vineis 2022). As such there is a danger exposomic research will end up ‘cancelling out the social’, with significant consequences for health policy.

We seek to problematise the ‘exposome’ using preliminary data on urban violence and mental health among young women in London. Drawing on interdisciplinary research into how urban violence is numerically measured, statistically modelled and predicted, alongside the everyday impacts of neighbourhood violence on participants’ use of green space (Han et al 2018), their everyday emotions (Duru 2019), and movement through the city (Riaño-Alcalá 2008), our research uses ‘bioethnographic’ mapping methods to symmetrically capture and analyse both epidemiological and ethnographic data. In this paper, we will reflexively critique these two contrasting mapping modalities (statistical and ethnographic) to interrogate the claims made by the exposome for a totalising framework of ecological health.

Panel P108
Biosocial approaches to health and environment
  Session 2