30th April 2016

In recent years the notion of immunity has been extended from its place in the biological sciences to the terrain of politics and society. In this context the conceptualisation of the body is central, whether this be the biomedical body, political bodies or the body politic.

The notion of immunity offers a means of understanding points of contact between life and politics, and, especially in the context of debates concerning ‘biopower’, the way in which life is protected through power by means that put the ‘life’ of some at risk. The paradigm of immunity makes intelligible how the body politic, like the individual body, can be immunized and protected from external threats by allowing part of that perceived danger to penetrate some of its boundaries. If modern democratic states are founded on their responsibility for the security, life and health of their subjects, the measures designed to preserve life all too readily serve to redefine boundaries through various mechanisms of exclusion from ‘bodies politic’, thereby sanctioning the death of some so as to ‘immunize’ others.
We invite engagements, revisions, and challenges to the notion of immunity in terms of its significance for the understanding of current political problems: from the so-called refugee crisis to austerity politics, from Palestine to Baltimore to the hospitals of the UK, where junior doctors are on strike in defence of both specific bodies and of the body politic.

Topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Health, immunity and the wellbeing of the body politic
  • Refugees and exclusion
  • Bioethics, biopolitics and immunity
  • Austerity politics, neoliberalism and immunity
  • Law as a form of immunization
  • Violence, policing and immunitarian politics
  • Terrorism and the politics of immunity
  • Suffering: the human body and the paradigm of immunity
  • Community, resistance and immunity
  • Physicians, humanitarian discourses and immunity
  • Theorisations of Immunity

Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics (CAPPE)
University of Brighton, UK
Brighton & Sussex Medical School



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