Thinking Immunologically

in The Age of Immunology

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780226568126
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226568140 | DOI:
Thinking Immunologically

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  • Social and Cultural Anthropology


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This chapter focuses on how metaphors function as conveyors of cultural categories of thought, and how immunology becomes a dominant medium through which those categories are variably embodied. The chapter also focuses on how the tyranny of being subjected to the powerful negative transformers of immunology can be handled more creatively. The cultural meaning that is carried by metaphor finds its way into both archetype and stereotype. Though immunology has increasingly become an eclectic domain of esoteric knowledge, it is important to remember that its disciplinary legitimacy has always stood, and for now still stands, on a fundamental distinction between “self” and “not-self.” Self-recognition is central to the understanding of antibody formation. Despite the recent trend to include immunologists in the widespread scientific habit of mystifying everything, immunology's focus on identity has given centrality to the fundamental autotoxic metaphor of the body at war with itself.

Keywords: cultural categories; immunology; self-recognition; antibody formation

Chapter.  13264 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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