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Education and the Immunization Paradigm


In this paper I chart the origins of modern day “biopedagogy” through an analysis of two historically specific figures of abnormality: the nervous child and the degenerate. These two figures form the positive (hygienic) and negative (eugenic) surfaces of biopolitics in education, sustained and articulated through the category of immunization. By analyzing the relation between the medical discourse of immunity and the practice of pedagogy, I will reveal how biopedagogy is predicated on a dialectical reversal of life into death and thus unsustainable for furthering social democracy. In conclusion, I begin to search for an affirmative notion of biopolitical education that is no longer predicated on the dialectics of immunization. For help in this project, I briefly suggest that a theory of natality helps to disentangle the promise of life from its negation in the form of educational eugenics and mental hygiene.

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Correspondence to Tyson E. Lewis.

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Lewis, T.E. Education and the Immunization Paradigm. Stud Philos Educ 28, 485 (2009).

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  • Arendt
  • Biopolitics
  • Disability studies
  • Esposito
  • Foucault