“Immunity”, whether referring to the individual (the official, the diplomat, the patient, the police officer, the doctor) or to the group (civil officers, the police, pharmaceutical companies, the “herd,” or the population) has shuttled among the registers of language that are held responsible for human and social life. Used in law, medicine, politics, religion and philosophy, the idea of immunity underpins that which constitutes the human and its relation to the non-human, disease, impurity, danger, and spatial containment. Immunity as a category has gone hand in hand with the idea of quarantine: the enclosure of peoples and places to protect the larger population from contamination of various kinds - epidemiological, ideological, cultural, psychic, and moral. Together, immunity and quarantine have been mutually constitutive in the spheres they have shaped and curtailed. In this seminar, we will explore their interplay both in the context of the differential spatial logics of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cultural and political ramifications of the AIDS epidemic. Theories on vaccines and immunity, biopolitical thought, critical race theory, as well as cultural products such as literary works and art projects will feature in the presentations.
Sarah Nuttall, Director, WISER, University of the Witwatersrand
Professor Ranjana Khanna, Director, Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University
Professor Debjani Ganguly, Director, Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, University of Virginia