Immunizing communities: the biopolitics of vaccination and its historical alternative

Galego, Carol-Ann (2017) Immunizing communities: the biopolitics of vaccination and its historical alternative. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

In Immunizing Communities: The Biopolitics of Vaccination and its Historical Alternative, Carol-Ann Galego turns to the history of medicine in response to one of the most pertinent questions in the contemporary study of biopolitics: is it possible to promote life without inadvertently undermining it? She traces the development of two alternative methods of preventing epidemics: vaccination and the prophylactic use of homeopathy. Although both methods were developed in the same year and advanced with the common goal of mitigating the effects of infectious disease, vaccination and homeoprophylaxis are nevertheless worlds apart. While vaccination was ushered into mainstream practice through risk analysis and retroactively validated by later developments in modern immunology, homeopathy was motivated by the medical maxim to “first do no harm” and rendered meaningful by a romantic conception of disease as a dynamic interaction between an organism and its environment. Galego argues that the differences between these two preventative strategies signal nothing less than a fundamental difference in our understanding of how we, as living organisms, live in and interact with the world and, no less radically, of how we should best navigate our limited capacity to understand these complex interactions. She finds in the history of homeopathy and its roots in German romantic medicine an alternative trajectory to modern developments in immunology and risk analysis, which have come to define our relations with others—indeed our very existence—as an inevitable negotiation of risk. Uniquely positioned to expose the limitations of the modern effort to immunize ourselves against the world, this untold chapter in the history of medicine considers alternative ways of living in and fostering healthy community.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/12930
Item ID: 12930
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 268-287).
Keywords: Biopolitics; Michel Foucault; Roberto Esposito; History of Medicine; Immunity; Vaccination; Edward Jenner; Risk Analysis; Ulrich Beck; Anthony Giddens; Homeopathy; Samuel Hahnemann; German Romanticism; Romantic Medicine Naturphilosophie; Friedrich Schelling; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: September 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Communicable diseases -- Prevention -- History -- 19th century; Vaccination -- History -- 19th century; Homeopathy -- History -- 19th century; Biopolitics -- 19th century

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