Immunity and Community in Italian War Novels Set in Afghanistan

Ronald de Rooy, M.M. Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The concept of immunity as developed by Roberto Esposito is complementary with the category of community and contrasts the notion of security with that of external contamination. In this article, the logic of immunity is applied to two 2012 Italian war novels set in Afghanistan, namely Melania Mazzucco's "Limbo" and Paolo Giordano's "The Human Body". In these novels, the space of the Forward Operating Base's so-called "security bubble" represents both the protective and the thanatopolitical sides of immunity, an ambivalent notion that offers the narrative framework to study Esposito's affirmative biopolitics. Both novels are part of the post-9/11 "return to the real," in that reconstruction and affect prevail over deconstruction and relativism. They thematize the mediatized experience of humanitarian and globalized warfare and raise questions about layered memories of war and national identity. Therefore, these narrations can be analyzed as examples of Vermeulen's "narratives of affect", De Boever's "narratives of care", and Breu's "late-capitalist literature of materiality", studies that question the relationship between literature and biopolitics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-392
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • war novels
  • Italian literature
  • biopolitics


Dive into the research topics of 'Immunity and Community in Italian War Novels Set in Afghanistan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this