Last week’s fan…

Last week’s fantastic ‘Topologies of Immunity’ workshop at the University of Exeter began with a keynote from Warwick Anderson (whose new 2014 paper is here, and absolutely worth a read for anybody interested in discussions of globalisation, biovalue and postcoloniality. Anderson’s a self-termed ‘postcolonial bore’, but the paper is anything but boring). His keynote, Getting Ahead of One’s Self, discussed the last part of his new book Intolerant Bodies – A short history of autoimmunity. Co-authored with Ian McKay, the book offers a reflection on the cultural relevance of immunity. As in the book, Anderson’s talk argued for a more generous understanding of immunitary logic, inclusive of philosophical and cultural reflections of immunology.

Ros Williams, writing about the ‘Topologies of Immunity‘ conference in Exeter on her blog Largely Hokum. Warwick’s abstract:

During the past thirty years, immunological metaphors, motifs, and models have come to shape much social theory and philosophy. It may seem that immunology has served to naturalize claims about self, identity, and sovereignty – perhaps most prominently in Jacques Derrida’s later studies. Yet the immunological science that functions as “nature” in these social and philosophical arguments is derived from interwar and Cold-War social theory and philosophy. Immunology can claim a complex, entangled history, derived from multiple cultural geographies of sensitivity and reactivity. Theoretical immunologists and social theorists knowingly have participated in this common culture. Thus the “naturalistic fallacy” in this case might be reframed as an error of categorization: its conditions of possibility would require ceaseless effort to purify and separate out the categories of nature and culture. The problem – inasmuch as there is a problem – therefore is not so much the making of an appeal to nature as assuming privileged access to an independent, sovereign category called “nature.” So, then, what is the nature of which we speak? Where is the immunological located?