The immunization paradigm
Roberto Esposito


1. How and in what sense can immunization fill that semantic void, that interval of meaning that opens in Foucault’s text between the constitutive poles of the concept of biopolitics, namely, biology and politics? Let’s begin by observing that the category of “immunity,” even in its current meaning, inscribes itself precisely in their intersection, that is, on the tangential line that links the sphere of life with that of right. While in the biomedical sphere the term immunity refers to a condition of natural or induced refractoriness on the part of a living organism when faced with a given disease, in political-juridical language immunity alludes to a temporary or definitive exemption on the part of the subject with regard to concrete obligations or responsibilities that under normal circumstances would bind one to others. At this point, however, we are only at the fringes of the question: many political terms of biological derivation (or at least of assonance) such as those of “body,” “nation,” and “constitution” come to mind.

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