Causative effects of cranial depression fractures: A case study of structural violence and social vulnerability within the Mississippi state asylum

Forensic Sci Int Synerg. 2023 Feb 28:6:100324. doi: 10.1016/j.fsisyn.2023.100324. eCollection 2023.


Cranial depression fractures (CDFs) are often associated with violence in a forensic and bioarchaeological context. Interpretations of CDFs, using a structural vulnerability framework, allow for examination of possible socioeconomic and sociocultural factors that influence an individual's life history. Placement of CDFs in relation to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and their potential connections to structural violence become essential for analysis. This case study presented Burial 49 from the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum (MSA). Burial 49 was an adult individual (probable male) who exhibited antemortem trauma to the left parietal bone with an associated CDF. The injury location had the potential to cause a variety of neurological and developmental issues, including difficulty understanding spoken/written language. This case study demonstrates how CDFs, structural violence, and social vulnerabilities might have contributed to an increased risk of MSA admittance and provide context for why this individual was marginalized.

Keywords: Institutionalization; Structural violence; Trauma; Traumatic brain injury.