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‘There is worse to come’: The biopolitics of traumatism in Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

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Publication details

JournalThe Sociological Review
DateAccepted/In press - 6 Nov 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 26 Dec 2016
Issue number3
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)493-508
Early online date26/12/16
Original languageEnglish


Two political interventions by leaders of the UK Conservative party provide our ‘way in’ to explore unfolding debates on antiomicrobial resistance (AMR). Separated by a decade, Michael Howard (2004) and David Cameron (2014) give expression to a ‘biotic politics’. Each invokes anxieties about infections, resistance and the immunitary ‘other’ and yet each evokes differing future logics. We anchor our discussion within immunitary theory, and in particular Derrida’s writings on ‘anticipatory catastrophism’ and ‘immunitary imagination’. We reveal how invocations fuelled by the repressed dread of a future return to the ‘dark ages’ plays into an economic imaginary, where ‘living with’ the biotic weakens the market, but ‘living against’ perpetually projects the market into the future. Catastrophism around that which is feared becomes, itself, a new source of ‘anticipatory evolution’ hastening and actualising the very thing that is feared, resistance. The AMR imaginary performs the ideal market logic as it becomes a means of limitless invocation fuelled by the repressed dread of a future return.

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© 2016, Sociological Review Publication Limited.This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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