Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species
Domesticating Immunity: The Polio Scare, Cold War Mobility, and the Vivisected Primate
2016. "Domesticating Immunity: The Polio Scare, Cold War Mobility, and the Vivisected Primate", Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species, Neel Ahuja
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This chapter explores how the development of a successful polio vaccine in the United States depended on a colonial primate trade linking domestic labs to India, Congo, and Puerto Rico. While polio was often figured as a domestic, white disease, emerging forms of scientific medicine posited that the best hope for a cure was in the vivisection of rhesus monkeys from India. Fears about the compromised capacities of immune and nervous systems and the touch of nonhuman primates were depicted in horror films representing polio labs and spinal taps. These images linked fears of medical intervention to concerns that science was irreversibly connecting the settler body to the risks of the decolonizing world. Imported primate research subjects thus were progressively nationalized and domesticated, setting the stage for the incorporation of nonhuman primate bodies into national ecologies of feeling and immunity.