In this book, Italian theoretical philosopher Robert Esposito explores the depths to which the logic and language of immunity has penetrated understandings of self and society. He explores how immunisation as discourse, has become a powerful way to imagine and construct the self and other as oppositional entities, as foreign bodies with the ongoing potential for destructive conflict.

However, by exploring how the logic of immunity functions in law, religion and as a biological mechanism of the body, the author is able to challenge the normative assumption of immunity as that which retains boundaries of external and internal. What is revealed throughout the book is the intrinsic nature of immunity as the doubling back of life itself, to incorporate within the body exactly that external entity which threatens its existence.

Having explored the normative basis of immunity, the book asks if there are other ways to imagine relations of self and other, to reimagine community outside the confines of existing understandings of immunity. This turn is of particular interest for those engaging with interdisciplinary works on antimicrobial resistance that seek to challenge, expand and reformulate existing conceptions of human microbe relations.

If immunity exists and functions not through the maintaining of boundaries, or the balancing of internal and external, but only by virtue of itself being intrinsically internal and external – the continuous exchange of material that by virtue of internal foreignness makes existence possible – we are encouraged to truly reassess how we conceptualise ‘otherness’. Perceiving immunity through this lens allows us to question binary relational categories and to rethink the very basis of relations and community.

This summary was written by PhD Student Maddy Pearson.

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Categories: Knowledge