Is the white privilege comparable to the Brahman privilege?

Whiteness and immunization

To distinguish between norm and normalization

Isabell Lorey

Fortunately, there has been critical whiteness research in German-speaking countries for several years, not institutionalized at universities, but as a diverse discourse. The research perspective applies to the “power and permanence of structural racism”, a perspective that wants to reverse the critical view: away from the permanent racist constructions of the “other”, towards the construction of the “white, racial subject” itself. politically self-critical reflection on racism of one's own position ”, like the editors of the 2006 anthology White - whiteness - whiteness write [1]. Likewise, the lived experiences of blacks under white supremacy and the early criticisms of black writers must be taken into account. This is underlined by the editors of the volume, which was published in 2005 Myths, masks and subjects and emphasize that the “self-marking of the markers [always] is preceded by the marginalized gaze of the marked”. [2] Even if the discourse on critical whiteness research is highly differentiated today, the different positions nevertheless agree that whiteness remains largely unmarked: that which is constructed differently is always named and visible.

But is this invisibility a norm or normal? What should be named here, what should be deconstructed: norm or normalization? What role does the focus on the subject, the white subject, who is supposed to recognize and name its own position play? That should "unmask" [3], position itself (with every letter, for example), but should also address "feelings of guilt" [4] and above all "white privileges"?

What I would like to show in the following is what connections can be made between whiteness and immunization in order to use two figures of the immune to point out political and analytical bottlenecks and conceptual ambiguities in the discourse of critical whiteness research. Certain focussing on the white subject, his privileges and the distinction between whiteness as the norm and whiteness as normalization, which is not made in any text known to me, must be problematized.

On the basis of two figures of the immune, it should become clear why a distinction between norm and normalization appears necessary. The first, the normative figure is that of “legal immunity” (i.e. not immunization) and revolves around privilege as an exception. The movement characteristic of this figure is that of the Her exception. The second figure, closely linked to the paradigm of normalization, is what I call “biopolitical immunization”. It revolves around vaccination as a cure. The striking movement here is that of acceptance.

Applying these considerations in the context of gender studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin tempts to focus on privileges, as the first privilege tests in German-speaking countries were developed at Susanne Baer's law department together with Daniela Hrzán. [5] There was always criticism and self-criticism to be heard. Daniela Hrzán formulated one of the most central findings from the privilege tests in the bulletin of the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies: The students focused “on being white (...) (in the sense of a black and white binary) that they could only perceive other categories of social inequality to a limited extent “[6]. Such discussions are to be intensified with the figures of legal immunity and biopolitical immunization.

White privileges

The privilege discussion was initiated by Peggy McIntosh with her 1988 working paper: "White Privilege and Male Privilege" [7]. The shortened version from 1990 then became the relevant text, the title of which is often used as a metaphor in dealing with white privileges: “White privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. White people should recognize which and how many privileges they have as white people: a full but weightless backpack that they carry around with them, unnoticed, ignorant and invisible. McIntosh writes: "White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks." [8]

Although McIntosh's approach has been criticized again and again, it still stands for a certain tendency in the American and German-language critical whiteness research. The image of the invisible backpack illustrates the idea of ​​white subject-related privileges very well, as it is carried on the back and is hidden from one's own view and thus from one's knowledge. The fact that it is visible to others does not matter in this context, because here the individual subjects are addressed with their perceptual or non-perceptual practices. What is more, it is about a complete moral value system that turns out to be “white”: She grew up, according to McIntosh, with the idea of ​​being an individual whose moral attitude depends on her individual moral will. [9] Whites learned to think about their lives as morally neutral, normative and average. If we are committed to the fact that others should be better off, this alone ultimately leads to allowing “them” to be like “us”. McIntosh understands this “we” as a yardstick, as a norm to which the “others” have to conform. [10]

McIntosh formulated this in the late 1980s and early 1990s against the background of American liberalism and criticized the myth of a performance society that only performance determines social and economic position. Instead, the USA is a country that is only free to a limited extent, because there are countless "undeserved privileges" for whites. If one turns this economic terminology of McIntosh around, then not all privileges are to be discarded, namely not those which are earned through corresponding achievements. Such an argument assumes that everyone has the same opportunities. The inequality that still exists can only be understood in this liberal logic as the failure of each individual to have not achieved enough. The term “undeserved privileges”, which is used again and again, implicitly assumes that inequalities are not generally problematic, but rather only when they arise from undeserved privileges. In the meantime, such ways of thinking are also widespread in a general context in this country: as neoliberal rhetoric of personal responsibility.

This linking of criticisms of white privileges with neoliberal appeals to subjectivization should not mean that privilege discussions are problematic in themselves. Rather, my concern is to point out arguments that relate to the idea of ​​a sovereign acting subject and, like McIntosh, speak morally and identitatively. Because in this way a current governmental zeitgeist is served rather than thinking about changes in inequality in a socially critical framework.

The goal of McIntosh's intervention is not only to become aware of one's own white privileges, but to actively reduce them and ultimately give up: “having described it, what will I do to read or end it?” Such a simple voluntaristic giving up or Discarding white privileges has been repeatedly criticized in whiteness research, not least in the example of the concept of Race Traitors by Noel Ignatief and John Garvey, who calls for the abolition of the white "race" through treason. [11] The replies to such liberation fantasies and misunderstood possibilities of a deconstructive analysis should not, however, lapse again into a racial biologism. This danger arises if it is assumed that the binarism between black and white is historically indissoluble. [12]

It must therefore be about an analytical perspective that neither argues voluntaristically nor falls back into biologisms, but assumes that whiteness is a social and political construction.

Ruth Frankenberg, one of the most influential theorists of Critical Whiteness Studies, understands Whiteness as a “practice” and “process” that takes place against resistance and precisely for that reason is “open to challenge” - “wherever it happens”. [13] I can agree with this, but I see that these supposedly ubiquitous possibilities of contestability ultimately lead to a phantasmatic activity activism from self-positioning, renaming to the abandonment of privileges. Perhaps this phantasm also arises because Frankenberg speaks less about institutionalization, about the many different materializations of whiteness, and - this is the focus of this text - neither she distinguishes between norm and normalization, nor those that refer to them.

Despite all the conceptual confusion in the whiteness discourse, the emphasis is on the figure of the norm, which, according to my assumption, is due to the emphasis on a certain idea of ​​the white subject's ability to act. It is no coincidence that there are many educational concepts and considerations to be found in the debate, such as the privilege test. Jürgen Link recently made it clear again that a normative perspective is characterized by isolating individual cases, actions and situations and confronting them with the law. [14] Such an orientation based exclusively on law or norm, however, remains in a legal paradigm. [15] Because norms, like laws, are only concerned with the question of whether they will be broken or not; in our case, how to break them. The tension is that between the individual subject and the law / norm. On the other hand, normalizations do not primarily focus on the individual subjects, since it is about modes of subjectification, about the many, about averages and deviations. First, however, to the paradigm of the norm, the associated figure of legal immunity and the one that constitutes it exception.

Legal immunity - the exception

The privilege originally had a narrow juridical meaning, i.e. in the context of law and norms. It is not for nothing that the privilege tests at a law chair were created. [16] But why the link to immunity? To investigate this, it is advisable to take a look at the etymologies of the two terms “immunity” and “privilege”. The word “privilege” is etymologically composed of two parts: from privus, which in Latin means “existing for itself”, “individually”, also “own” or “special”. The second part, "-leg", goes back to the Latin lex for law or regulation. The privilege is therefore a special right, a “prerogative”, ultimately an “exceptional right”. [17] But more than that - the etymological relationship of privus With privatus: From a peculiar right, a jussingularis we are talking about one that is separate from general law that applies to all others, because historically privilege means the prerogative of an individual.

The exception to this right now is that the privileged person is mostly exempt from something, for example from paying duties, paying certain taxes. According to the old Latin usage of the word, those who enjoy a privilege are exempt from any obligation. And this definition of “being exempt from an obligation or a tax” is also that of immune. Privilege and immunity thus overlap in their meanings at one point, which is important for the argument presented here.

Like “privilege”, the word “immunity” also has it, going back to the Latin immunitas, the meaning of being free and liberated. What is meant is not being free in itself, but being free of something in relation to something. In fact, in the ancient state this meant exemption from taxes (in cash or in kind) or from an office that one was obliged to assume. Immunity could mean an exemption from the burdens of property as well as one from personal burdens, from those "which strained personal productivity, physically or mentally". The same regulations concerned taxes, for exampleentBurdens on the blind or infirm, but also philosophers, were freed from the burden of their intellectual capabilities. Furthermore, the senators in Rome and high officials had immunity. [18]

Immunity therefore expressed the waiver and relief of services and taxes to the community, the state. There is only one word in Latin for everything that could be decreed, from which was delivered: munus. In the ancient Roman legal view, such public services are meant, to which the civil rights (of the men) and the place of residence (the domicilium) commit to the state or the community. [19] Obligations that arise from the right to live in a certain community and to have rights therein. This munus, the obligation to hand in, also refers to the fundamental meaning of community in Latin: communitas comes from com-munis, “Contributing, with obligations”, having duties and taxes together with others. This idea of ​​community has nothing to do with a logic of identity, with unity, homogeneity or standardization. Because in this etymology it is constituted solely through the common duties, the duties of all who live in a community. Such a community does not exist in front the duties, but constitutes itself in and through the regulations of the charges as com-munitas.

Immunitas on the other hand, as a liberating release from burdens, as a discharge, this discharge represents in the word itself as a negation. Because the prefix in-, at immunis she becomes in the-, in Latin implies the negation of munus[20], of duties or services: im-munia - without obligations. Those who are immune do not have to fulfill these community obligations and are consequently without community obligations.

This already shows that the immune and the commune are inextricably linked. But they are not simply facing each other in an oppositional relationship. One is not simply the negation of the other. Rather, as the Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito put it, both relate to one another in a “complex dialectic”. The community constitutes the "horizon of meaning (...) against which immunity alone can stand out". [21]

If benefits are waived for someone, then the person is not only without duties, without office, and therefore in the negation of munus, but it also owes nothing to anyone. There is talk of a social relationship in relation to the community: if you are immune, something has been removed, the duty of munus. At the same time, that person became something himself outTaken, namely from the community, but not in an outside, but in the position of the exception. The exception to this is that she is without burden or guilt, without debt to others. This meaning of “being out of debt” is reinforced by the close connection between Immunitas With excusatio“[22], the excusation, the debt relief. If one follows this line of negation, the immune person is not in debt to anyone, which also means that they have not been guilty of anything - something that can be understood positively at first, but "immune" also has a line of meaning to " untouched ", in the sense of" no guilt "and" pure ". [23] Therefore, the focus on immune innocence, even purity, obscures the fundamental social relationship that is at stake here.

Immunity is apparently inconceivable without community that Her exception not without the rule, without the rules and laws that apply to all others. Immunitas and communitas are therefore in a mutual conditional relationship and yet one is the parasite of the other. Roberto Esposito emphasizes that it is precisely this relationship between exception and rule, between special rights and general law bound to the individual subject, between debt relief and tax liability, which makes the deeply "anti-social and anti-community character" of immunitarian privilege clear. Because the exposed, privileged position is a parasitic part of the community. It doesn't exist without the others, but at their expense.The social relationship between exception and rule, between immunity and community is therefore a parasitic relationship of inequality.

This legal figure of immunity shows that the privilege, the immunity, is a personal right, tied to the subject as the holder of the right. My criticism is that this legal figure basically presupposes the idea of ​​a classically enlightening subject, a subject who is endowed with a will, acts intentionally and also has properties and identity. The privilege is therefore tied to the legal subject, as if it would be possessed as an identity or quality. What is not seen with this is how this idea of ​​the subject itself is an effect and, above all, an instrument of power and domination relationships.

In this juridical scenario, giving up privileges and rejecting them would mean liberation from the guilt of indebtedness. Obviously, that would be nothing more than reverse debt relief: namely, relief from the burden of privilege. A kind of clean wash. It is not for nothing that the question of guilt is raised again and again in discussions about whiteness. Anyone who can identify the position of guilt can consider exonerating strategies, which, however, in the logic that I am advocating here, is another strategy of immunization.

My criticism of a whiteness discussion focused on norms is that it uncritically constructs the ability to act on the basis of legal subjects. Such sovereign subject ideas should be the basis of critical, liberating and excusing capacity to act. In this way, however, it is precisely the traditional male white idea of ​​sovereignty that is constantly enthroned, instead of even remotely shaking it. The idea of ​​a sovereign subject who reshapes the world according to his will or his right consciousness, therefore recognizes privileges and can even discard them in the end, is reproduced, and thus one of the central pillars of constructions of superiority and whiteness. A major reason for this is the focus on norms and the permanent mixing of norm and normality, of norming and normalization.

Privilege is the exception, it cannot be normal. As one such exception, it is far from invisible or unmarked. On the contrary, it is conspicuous, clearly marked, namely in relation to everyone else, to the community. If one wants to regard whiteness as invisible normality, it makes no sense to tie the analysis of whiteness to normative thinking alone. Because normalization mechanisms do not arise within the legal paradigm of the norm. Rather, they can be described in the context of a biopolitical paradigm of normalization as a strategy of immunization. But first a further clarification of the terminology.

Normativity, standardization and normalization

In 1978, in his first lecture on governmentality with the title “Security, Territory, Population”, Foucault corrected his previous research and systematized it in terms of a central point. After his research on the discipline, which he did in 1975 in Monitor and punish published, he is now, three years later, developing the paradigm of security. This shifts the entire statics of his power analysis. Discipline and security, he now says, treat what is commonly called "normalization" in very different ways. As early as the late 1970s, talk about normalization was evidently booming, because Foucault begins his lecture a little lamenting: “What is not all normalization? I normalize, you normalize, etc. ”[24] It is precisely this inflationary use of normalization that pervades many discourses to this day, including that of critical whiteness research.

But first the distinction to the norm: Law and norm belong together in relation to the thinking connected with them. Throughout his entire work, Foucault describes such a law-oriented way of thinking as juridical. That is known. What he has certainly failed to do for years is to provide a precise analytical differentiation between norm and normalization. In this lecture on governmentality he makes up for that and speaks first of normativity, i.e. of what he has previously called legal: a way of thinking in relation to legal systems that are related to norms, refer to a system of norms. He distinguishes from this normativity Normalization. Normalizations are of course not the absolutely different thing about a system of norms, they do not take place beyond a legal or normative code. But they also do not necessarily emerge from it. Rather, they are constituted in the “leeway” [25] of the legal and normative systems, and often run counter to them. Normalization techniques are thus procedures and practices that are not covered by normative regulations and, precisely in their normalizing effects, are often not covered by norms.

After this differentiation between norm and normalization, Foucault makes another one. He mentions a third term that is supposed to denote what is usually understood by normalization, but he does Not understands that. He calls this supposed normalization Standardization. He himself says that the word is unusual in French too. Nevertheless, this standardization, this misunderstood normalization, is characterized by the fact that it Not breaks away from the norm and abides in the logic of law and justice. The characteristics of such a juridical logic are binary The demarcation between sovereign and subject, law and legal subject, in short: between what is allowed and what is forbidden. That is why Foucault calls this standardization “disciplinary” [26]. Because the discipline dissects and divides individuals in order to perceive them on the one hand and to modify them on the other. Likewise, disciplining techniques classify, optimize and control them according to certain goals and for certain benefits. From such a utilitarian optimal model, a “split” into the normal and the abnormal emerges, “(...) where the normal is exactly what is able to conform to this [optimal] norm and the abnormal is what is incapable of doing this ". [27] The normal should submit to the norm and submit, the abnormal is excluded. Accordingly, with this idea of ​​normation, it is not a split into normal and abnormal that is fundamental, but the norm. The norm prescribes, and based on it, binary and only binary patterns of normal and abnormal are determined. If the norm is set as the starting point from which a binarism of “normal” and “abnormal” is derived, then it is not a matter of normalization. Rather, standardization is also part of the legal field.

Biopolitical Immunization - Acceptance

There is a second etymological genealogy of the immune: this secondary, remote etymology does not derive from the negation of the munus from, but from immunire. Refers in this verb in the- not, as in the first interpretation, on a negation, but on an inward movement. munire comes from the old Latin term of munia or moenia, the walls, and means something like to fortify in the sense of "surrounded by walls": city walls, the walls of a ship or the Alps as a protective wall of Italy. Immunire thus implies a movement of drawing in, and in the movement of drawing in, at the same time a fastening, a protection. [28] While the legal immunity in privilege is a figure of the Outconstructed assumption, the second figure of the immune is based on the Inand thus becomes an important aspect of the biopolitical paradigm of normalization. [29]

In this genealogy of meaning of acceptance, the term “immunize” became established at the end of the 19th century, in the sense of “making immune to pathogens (...) by vaccination”. [30] But long before Robert Koch began to propagate the pathogen theory in the 1870s [31], the practice of vaccinating against smallpox spread throughout Europe. It is said that Lady Montagu experienced the vaccination practice, which had long been widespread in the Ottoman Empire, during her stay in Constantinople there in the 1710s, even had her son vaccinated, and reported about it on her return to England. [32] As a result, smallpox was the first disease in Europe to attempt to immunize people by deliberately infecting them with pathogens. This meant introducing the poison of the disease into the body in a weakened manner, taking it into it, in order to protect the body from smallpox and to make it immune from further infections. After the artificial infection, the disease, which broke out only weakly, should be healed quickly, instead of being exposed to the deadly epidemic unprotected. This procedure represented an enormous paradigm shift in the history of medicine in the West. In India, on the other hand, vaccination procedures were already carried out by Brahmins "in the first centuries after Christ" [33] in which "smallpox cases were transmitted from mild cases to healthy people through light incisions" [34 ]. However, the medical causes of smallpox remained unknown worldwide until the 20th century. One did not know for sure how they were ultimately transmitted and spread, and how to cure them. It was not until 1906 that the smallpox virus was "discovered" by a Hamburg doctor, that is, after vaccinations had been carried out in Europe for 150 years. [35]

This medical paradigm shift takes place in Europe at the beginning of modernity and, as Foucault emphasized, also marks a socio-political upheaval: namely the transition from traditional sovereign rule, the juridical model, to capitalist bourgeois rule, i.e. the transition to biopolitical governmentality - how I denote the merging of the two Foucaultian concepts of biopolitics and governmentality. [36]

Since his early writings like that Birth of the clinic Foucault has repeatedly pointed out that in the secular biopolitical governmental society health took over the old function of Christian salvation. [37] In the course of modern statehood, the essential function of medicine since the 18th century has been to "replace religion and turn sin back into disease". [38]

Health became a national responsibility. For the first time at the end of the 18th century, not only in France and Austria, parallel to the establishment of modern hospitals, municipal and state health policies emerged. In contrast to the hospitals and military hospitals of the Middle Ages and modern times, in which the poor and sick merely languished and died, this now developed Healing commandment. People should get well again, especially to regain their ability to work. The total number of the population should be kept relatively stable and should not die in high numbers from highly infectious, ultimately uncontrollable epidemics. Healing now increasingly meant keeping people alive and developed in the 18th century as a deeply biopolitical concept.

All of this is unthinkable without statistics, without data collection, without calculating an average, a mean: in short, what should be considered healthy, and therefore normal. Healing as a biopolitical concept of normalization does not primarily aim at the health of each individual. [39] The historically new question was what probability as many of the population as possible will get well. Vaccination is the paradigmatic example of this.

Never in the history of vaccination has there been absolute certainty that you will be really immune afterwards. For a long time there was a not inconsiderable risk of developing smallpox despite vaccination and of dying from the artificial infection or of not being immune in the long run from vaccination (variolation or vaccination). [40] The only way to justify vaccination in the 18th and 19th centuries was therefore not medical knowledge, only statistics. In 1760, the mathematician Bernoulli argued with the following logic: “If you introduce vaccination, there will be a gain of several thousand people for civil society; even if it is life-threatening, since it kills children in the cradle, it is preferable to smallpox, which perishes adults who have become useful to society ”. [41] Depending on age, place of residence or occupation, it was then considered normal, i.e. to a certain extent likely, to become immune through vaccination or not. The area of ​​the abnormal is closely related to death, namely dying of smallpox. As long as this dying does not get out of hand, however, it is to some extent the accepted part of vaccination statistics, and at the same time of normalizations in general. The abnormal is tolerated in a double sense: on the one hand in the tolerance of its physical or social death, on the other hand in its existence if it does not threaten or endanger the normal. In this double sense, what is constructed as abnormal has a function for what is considered normal. [42]

As an empirical practice, the smallpox vaccination cannot be separated from statistical normalization mechanisms, however, as I said, without specific medical knowledge. But even without isolating the smallpox virus and without precise knowledge of what it looks like and what exactly it does, vaccination moves within a certain medical paradigm, namely that of ingesting the poison as a medicine, a figure of immunization, according to the normalization works too.

The conscious incorporation, the ingestion of poison in the body means two things: on the one hand, the end of binary boundaries between inside and outside, the skin as a metaphorical protective boundary becomes permeable. On the other hand, with the ingestion of poison, a completely new idea of ​​healing arises. Treatment according to the principle of opposites is no longer the order of the day, an understanding of medicine that is based on the Hippocratic theory of juices and understands healing as the balancing of body juices that have become unbalanced. The new idea of ​​healing, on the other hand, goes back to the Swiss Paracelsus (1493-1541) and, instead of the principle of opposites, corresponds to the homeopathic principle of similarity. The new treatment rule now reads: Like is cured by like, [43] to put it simply: the smallpox disease caused by the smallpox virus. Illness is therefore no longer the counterpart to health, illness and health no longer form a contradiction. Because with the principle of similarity, the disease, the virus, the evil are necessary "instruments" for healing, for the establishment of health [44]. Esposito writes: "The cure for the evil is to take it in forms and dosages that are such that you will definitively immunize against it" [45]. The healing should therefore take place through precisely the threat from which one wants to protect oneself. Because by taking in antibodies, thus defense, should be produced in order to ultimately neutralize the now immanent threat, make it harmless, but not destroy it.

The neutralization of the now immanent poison corresponds with the expansion of the area of ​​the normal and thus with the endeavor to constantly minimize the risk of illness and at the same time to continuously increase the chances of recovery, but never completely or for everyone. If one understands neutralizing as making harmless, then that also means "healing" in a certain way: healing as reintegration into the healthy normality collective. In front This integration, this acceptance through healing, it is always necessary to determine by data collection, consequently categorizations and differentiations, where the transitions to the abnormal run, who belongs to it and who no longer. The abnormal must first be created, that is, marked as extremely different, before it can be reintegrated through healing and regulated anew. This in turn corresponds to the already mentioned double function of the abnormal. The possibility of being able to include the marked other again at all and thereby expand and at the same time stabilize the - unmarked - normal produces a flexible differentiation between curable and incurable other. Healthy normality is therefore constituted on a variable scale from “integrable” to “incurable”.In the paradigm of normalization, there is a dynamic comparable to a vaccination and the associated normalistic ideas of healing. It is a movement of permanent construction and Involvement of the abnormal and the aberration into an "inside".

The curative immunization is consequently not a normative state and therefore not an immunity as in the juridical conception. Rather, it is an ongoing, dynamic process that can never come to a conclusion. It is a ceaseless promise of healing and thus constitutively unstable. [46]

I have introduced two figures of the immune here. On the one hand, there is legal immunity, which is based on the norm that creates privilege as a special right, as an exception, tied to a legal subject who is in a parasitic debt-free relationship with the community. The problem: the reproduction of the male, white, sovereign subject. Furthermore, analyzes that understand the normal to be oriented towards the norm can be referred to as legal normation with Foucault. The problem: they too remain stuck to binary logic. As an alternative to binary thinking, I have proposed the second figure of the immune, biopolitical immunization. An unstable dynamic of normalization that develops historically with the beginning of modernity and revolves around a promise of healing. Normalization is then constituted and reproduced through permanent acceptance, through the integration of what was previously marked as abnormal. Despite the analytical separation proposed in this text, there is no norm-free sphere of normalization and just as little vice versa. However, it is about two different paradigms.

A short etymological comment on the word "heal", which I also spoke of as integration. Healing actually doesn't just mean “whole”, “healthy”, “whole” and “to be unharmed”. Regina M. Banda Stein pointed out a second, no longer present etymological line of meaning of “to heal”. In connection with the castration of animals, "cure" meant "take the wildness". [47] This line means at the same time - not reduced to animals -: "make tame and usable". Moreover, this word meaning appears parallel to the European colonization. [48] “Healing” also means adapting, taking the “wildness”, the unfamiliar, that which threatens the normal - white - and not through exclusion, but through integration. It makes sense to understand this idea of ​​“healing”, like stone, also in a missionary colonial context: Before he could “heal”, black people had to Christianize and thus culturally “broken”, “tame”. and made 'docile'. "[49]

This text largely corresponds to the lecture “Immunization and Whiteness”, given as part of the lecture series of the Graduate School “Gender as Cultures of Knowledge” on May 8, 2007 at the Humboldt University in Berlin. It appears in an expanded and revised version as Whiteness and die unfolding of the immune. For the necessary distinction between norm and normalization", In: Bettina Bock von Wülfingen / Ute Frietsch (ed.), Epistemology and Difference. Contributions to reproduction in the sciences, Bielefeld: transcript 2010.

[1] The volume also aims to "destabilize and even abolish these racist relations of domination and power" (Foreword. In: Martina Tißberger, Gabriele Dietze, Daniela Hrzán, Jana Husmann-Kastein (eds.): White - whiteness - whiteness. Critical Studies on Gender and Racism. Berlin 2006, 7-12, 7).

[2] Peggy Piesche: The thing with the subject, or: Who does critical whiteness research belong to? In: Maureen Maisha Eggers, Grada Kilomba, Peggy Piesche, Susan Arndt (eds.): Myths, masks and subjects. Critical whiteness research in Germany. Münster 2005, 14-17, 16.

[3] Susan Arndt: Whiteness. The misunderstood structural category of Europe and Germany. In: Myths, Masks and Subjects, 24-29, 28.

[4] Tißberger et al .: Foreword. In: White - whiteness - whiteness, 9. S.a. Aveling, Nado: More Than Just Skin Color: Reading Whiteness Across Different Locations. In: White - whiteness - whiteness, 31-42 .; Michael S. Kimmel: Toward a Pedagogy of the Oppressor. In: Michael S. Kimmel; Abby L. Ferber (Eds.): Privilege. A reader. Boulder / Colorado, Oxford 2003, 1-10, 9: "Guilt can politicize us."

[6] Daniela Hrzán: Privileges in the discussion: impressions from my visit to the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research at the University of Oslo. In: HU GenderBulletin 34 Texts, summer semester 2007. Online at: (forthcoming)

[7] Peggy McIntosh: White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies. Working Paper 189, Wellesley College Center for Research on Women’s Studies. Reprinted in: Michael S. Kimmel, Abby L. Ferber (Eds.): Privilege. A reader. Boulder / Colorado, Oxford 2003, 147-160. McIntosh cites 45 points such as: "If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live." or "I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented." This list of privileges became the model for so-called privilege tests, such as those developed by Susanne Baer and Daniela Hrzán at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

[9] See ibid .: “My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow 'them' to be more like 'us'. "

[10] At McIntosh, exactly what I want to differentiate in the following gets mixed up: the normative relates to the norm, the average to the normal. The yardstick, in turn, belongs to both areas.

[11] John Garvey, Noel Ignatiev (Eds.): Race Traitor. New York, London 1996. John Garvey, Noel Ignatiev: Toward a New Abolitionism: A Race Traitor Manifesto. In: Mike Hill (Ed.): Whiteness. A Critical Reader. New York, London 1997, 346-349. Critical to this: Ladelle McWhorter: Where do White people come from? A Foucaudian critique of Whiteness Studies. In: Philosophy & Social Criticism. vol. 31. nos 5-6, 533-556; Jinthana Haritaworn: “Faithful to Humanity”: Racial betrayal and multi-topic politics in current multiculturalism. In: Myths, masks and subjects, 158-171; Stefan Gerbing, Rona Torenz: Critical whiteness research and German context. About the relationship between being German, whiteness and the construction of the Aryan. Saarbrücken 2007, 19.

[12] The argument that Susan Arndt holds against such liberation fantasies with critical intent is that whites cannot turn black, only become less white, depending on their social and economic positioning. Because the “biologically inherited whiteness” (351) cannot be lost historically. (Susan Arndt: Myths of white Subject: denial and hierarchization of racism. In: Myths, masks and subjects, 340-362, 350ff.) Such an argument is extremely problematic because it can give rise to biological race constructions. A black-and-white binarism is not viewed as a social construction, but constantly reproduced in a naturalizing way. Eske Wollrad also assumes that racism is linked to the “inscription of irreversible differences in the body”. (Eske Wollrad: Whiteness in contradiction. Feminist Perspectives on Racism, Culture and Religion. Frankfurt / M. 2005, 119) On this also critically: Gabriele Dietze: Critical Whiteness Theory and Critical Occidentialism. Two figures of hegemonic self-reflection. In: White - whiteness - whiteness, 219-248, 230.

[13] Ruth Frankenberg: The Politics of Whiteness. Views on a Cultural Front. (04/12/2001). In: Abridged version of your text "Local Whitenesses, Localizing Whiteness". In: Ruth Frankenberg (Eds.): Displacing whiteness. Essays in Social and CulturalCriticism. Durham, London 1997, 1-34.

[14] Jürgen Link: Normativity versus normality: cultural aspects of the good conscience in the dispute over genetic engineering. In: Martin Stingelin (ed.): Biopolitics and Racism. Frankfurt / M. 2003, 184-205, 191

[15] For the fixation of Critical Whiteness Studies on norms, see also McWhorter.

[17] 'Privilege'. In: Smart. Etymological dictionary of the German language. Edited by Elmar Seebold. 24th revised and expanded edition. Berlin, New York 2002, 721; ,Privilege'. In: Wolfgang Pfeifer (ed.): Etymological dictionary of German H-P. Berlin 1989, 1320-1321, 1321.

[18] 'Immunitas'. In: Paulys Realencyclopedia of Classical Antiquity. ed. v. Wilhelm Kroll. Seventeenth half-volume. Stuttgart 1914, Sp. 1134-1136.

Women and children also had to pay taxes, but not every form of munus. "The boys under guardianship (orbi) and persons of the female sex who are neither in paternal nor in marital power (orbae) are taxed independently under property law ”and can therefore also be exempt from property tax. However, they are subject to the “special and, because it is constant, difficult task of paying horses and feed money for the riders, whereas they are from tributum are exempt (...). In the course of time this has become a privilege ... ”(Theodor Mommsen: The Frohnden and Taxes of the patrician-plebeian community. In: Ders .: Roman constitutional law. Third volume. I. Department. Leipzig, 1887, 224-239, 236)

[19] 'Munus'. In: Paulys Realencyclopedia of Classical Classical Studies. ed. v. Wilhelm Kroll. Thirty-first half-volume. Stuttgart 1933, Sp. 644-651, 644

[20] 'immune'. In: Wolfgang Pfeifer (ed.): Etymological dictionary of German H-P. Berlin: 1989, 730.

[21] Roberto Esposito: Immunitas. Protection and negation of life. Berlin 2004, 11.

[22] 'Immunitas'. In: Paulys, Col. 1134: “about the same, but not identical with excusatio". See also Esposito. Immunitas, 12: "Those who are immune - according to the double register of vacatio and excusatio - owes no one anything ".

[23] Too 'immune' as 'untouched' and 'pure', see Kluge. Etymological dictionary, 435

[24] Michel Foucault: History of Governmentality I. Security, Territory, Population. Lecture at the Collège de France 1977-1978. Edited by Michel Sennelart. Frankfurt / M. 2004, 88.

[25] Foucault. History of Governmentality I., 88.

[26] Foucault. History of Governmentality I., 89.

[27] Foucault. History of Governmentality I., 89f.

[28] “build in im-munio 4. ivi: praesidium T“(Build a protection in). See Josef Maria Stowasser: Latin-German school and manual dictionary. Vienna 1930, 385; see also Thesaurus Linguae Latinae. Munich 2003. I would like to thank Gerald Raunig for pointing this out.

[29] This text is a first step towards problematizing a figure of biopolitical immunization. I limit myself here to the central reproductive dynamics of domination without going into the possibilities of transformation. Since such a scenario of biopolitical immunization cannot be reduced to the problem of whiteness, I cite it in this context without explicitly focusing on the latter.

[30] 'immune'. In: Pfeifer, 730.

[31] In 1876, Koch isolated a bacillus with the anthrax pathogen as a separate cause of an infectious disease: a singular pathogen. When he provided evidence of the tuberculosis bacterium in 1881, the idea of ​​the existence of bacterial pathogens prevailed in medicine, that is, the pathogen theory as a reduced-complexity cause-effect relationship of diseases. (also Philipp Sarasin, Silvia Berger, Marianne Hänseler, Myriam Spörri (eds.): Bacteriology and Modernity. Studies on the biopolitics of the invisible 1870-1920. Frankfurt / M. 2007)

[32] Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was married to the English ambassador in Constantinople. See, among others, Stefan Winkle: Scourges of humanity. Cultural history of epidemics. Düsseldorf 2005, 868ff .; Dagmar Weigel: The 'Embassy Letters' from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. In: Ragnhild Münch (ed.): Smallpox. Between everyday life, medicine and politics. Berlin 1994, 35-41.

[33] Winkle. Scourges of humanity, Note 76,1419.

[34] Winkle. Scourges of humanity, 850.

[35] The first vague evidence of the smallpox pathogen is said to have been given to the Mexican-born vaccine doctor Enrique Paschen from Hamburg. “Paschen's elementary bodies, whose etiological significance had long been controversial, were finally recognized as the causative agent of smallpox.” (Winkle, 896) Until 1930, the virus could not really be isolated as a pathogen and microscopically detected, because viruses passed through the usual porcelain filters that could be used to trap bacteria. "Although the nature of these submicroscopic particles was unknown, they were referred to by the term 'virus'." (Volker Hess: Vom Miasma zum Virus. In: Münch. Smallpox. 16-30, 26.)

[36] Lorey, Isabell: When Life Entered Politics. The biopolitical governmental modernity, Foucault and Agamben. In: Marianne Pieper, Thomas Atzert, Serhat Karakayali, Vassilis Tsianos (eds.): Empire and the biopolitical turnaround. The international discussion following Hardt and Negri. Frankfurt / M. / New York 2007, 269-292.

[37] Michel Foucault: Birth of the clinic. An archeology of the medical eye. Frankfurt / M. 1988, 208.

[38] Michel Foucault: The Essential Function of Medicine in Our Society (1972). In: Writings in four volumes. Dits et Écrits. Volume II. 1970-1975. Frankfurt / M. 2002, 474-476, 475.

[39] Cf. Hess. In: Münch. smallpox.

[40] Vaccination with human pox is called variolation or inoculation, while vaccination is the less dangerous vaccination with cowpox. For the history of European vaccination and the resistance to smallpox vaccination, see Münch. Smallpox.

[41] Quoted in Foucault. History of Governmentality I., 123, note 8 (122f.), Foucault cites A.-M. Moulin: "La vaccination anti-variolique", which refers to Bernoulli.

[42] The abnormal is never the opposite of the normal. Rather, the relationship between the normal and the tolerated abnormal is one of gradations. Therefore, the idea of ​​normality can only arise “in a statistically transparent society” and “gain cultural legitimacy” without having to overlap with social norms. Normalities are therefore “a modern and occidental peculiarity that requires both highly dynamic industrial societies that have been dated across the board” (Link, In: Stingelin. Biopolitics and Racism. 188).

[43] Esposito. Immunitas, 175

[44] Esposito. Immunitas, 175.

[45] Esposito. Immunitas, 175f.

[46] According to this, self-positioning of 'white' authors can not only be understood as a legal discourse on debt relief, but also - in accordance with such a figure of biopolitical immunization - as self-labeling for one's own immunization. Criticism of the unmarked normal is 'accepted' into one's own positioning, integrated and neutralized with this identitary cleaning gesture.

[47] Regina M. Banda Stein: Black women in the context of colonial nursing traditions or the everyday life of the past. In: Myths, masks and subjects, 189-202, 190.

[48] ​​From the 15th century ('heal'. In: Kluge. Etymological dictionary, 402)
Whiteness and immunization