The response to an uncontrolled spread of disease often incites a commingling of medical, moral, and political panic. Whether in the context of threats presented by early plagues, to contemporary super viruses, to lead toys, contagion, via transmission, makes interconnections visible, among and across peoples, cultures, objects, forms of commerce, and more. In this article, I use an intersectional disability studies framework to first discuss how, faced with the bio-insecurity of contagion, responses typically invoke discourses of war, empire, and what Priscilla Wald calls "medical nativism" (2008, 9). I then discuss how metaphors of autoimmunity often simply shift this discourse from concerns about external terror to that of internal terror (Sengupta 2014). Viewing autoimmunity from this vantage point, the body/nation is still viewed as vulnerable to attack, but the victim and the villain are the self/same. In the final section, I posit that a reimagined ethic of autoimmunity could offer new and fruitful ways to think about self/other relations that rely on mutual recognition and reject the binary, oppositional stance that undergirds annihilation.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 1-20
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.