Biopolitics of "Acquired Immunity": The War Discourse and Feminist Response-Abilities in Art, Science, and Technology During COVID-19

Yetişkin Doğrusöz E. B.

OMICS A Journal of Integrative Biology, vol.26, no.10, pp.552-566, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1089/omi.2022.0091
  • Journal Name: OMICS A Journal of Integrative Biology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.552-566
  • Keywords: bioart, biopolitics, biopower, commoning, COVID-19, feminist, Gabriel Tarde, immunity, STS, systems medicine
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


© 2022, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.If we are to adequately decipher and make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ways in which large populations as well as their immune systems have responded to the virus, we ought to map the broader sociomaterial contexts in which a planetary health crisis, such as COVID-19, has been situated. Adopting a biophilosophical approach and feminist versions of Science and Technology Studies (STS), this article problematizes the virality of the war discourse and its tactical uses for the sake of biopower during COVID-19. Also, a queering lens is used to question the military metaphors deployed during COVID-19. Queering is understood in this article as to make change, and to act in a way that is disruptive of allegedly oppressive power structures. Queering seeks to expose or otherwise uncover that norms are, in fact, just limitations on a far broader set of possibilities. With the aim of exploring how critical associations can extend their response - abilities for the exploitative, authoritarian, and racist forces of biopower, the article examines the skilled practices and intra-actions of a feminist collective, FEMeeting - Women in Art, Science and Technology. Acknowledging the social relevance of a core community for acquiring immunity and its role for the future, a feminist conception of the virus played a key role in queering all kinds of anthropocentric and essentialist views by biohacking, DIY (Do It Yourself) and DIWO (Do It With Others) techniques in the actions and coproductions of FEMeeting. Of note, the war metaphor operated as a tactic for camouflaging and obfuscating the facts in the course of the pandemic. The findings reveal that paratactical commoning, which is a self-reflexive collective knowledge production in artistic and hacktivist research, emerges as a way in which political ontological potentials can be critically activated within communities of action. The feminist lenses on COVID-19, and the paratactical commoning presented in this article, are of broad interest to systems scientists to explore the ways in which biopower, and the previously unchecked war discourse and militaristic metaphors coproduce COVID-19 acquired immunity and the social injustices. Understanding not only the biology but also the biopolitics of acquired immunity to the control of COVID-19 is, therefore, crucial for systems medicine and planetary (health) care that is at once effective, resilient, foreseeable, and just.