This article examines how biological and political insecurity have become increasingly imbricated with one another. Building on Priscilla Wald's assertion that contagion reveals the connections of an imagined community, I show how it also reveals disconnections: who is dispossessed by these imagined communities. Through examinations of the Resident Evil franchise, Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, and Max Brooks's World War Z, I demonstrate how through contagion, individuals are marked as biologically and politically threatening, dispossessed of an imagined community, and then subjected to violence. In all of these texts, the globalization of an imbricated health and security complex enacts a generalizing logic that obscures local history and cultural specificity. This logic works to dispossess individuals of imagined communities along racialized, gendered, and classed lines, and makes that dispossession appear apolitical. This article advocates instead for a recognition of the history and relation of the terms and figures that populate the cultural imaginary.


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pp. 216-234
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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