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Our contemporary political condition is obsessed with immunity. The immunity of bodies and the body politic; personal immunity and herd immunity; how to immunize the social system against breakdown. The obsession intensifies with every new crisis and the mobilization of yet more powers of war and police, from quarantine to border closures and from vaccination certificates to immunological surveillance.
Engaging four key concepts with enormous cultural weight – Cell, Self, System and Sovereignty – Politics of Immunity moves from philosophical biology to intellectual history and from critical theory to psychoanalysis to expose the politics underpinning the way immunity is imagined. At the heart of this imagination is the way security has come to dominate the whole realm of human experience. From biological cell to political subject, and from physiological system to the social body, immunity folds into security, just as security folds into immunity. The book thus opens into a critique of the violence of security and spells out immunity’s tendency towards self-destruction and death: immunity, like security, can turn its aggression inwards, into the autoimmune disorder.
Wide-ranging and polemical, Politics of Immunity lays down a major challenge to the ways in which the immunity of the self and the social are imagined.