Ecological Immunity and Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312

Hannes Bergthaller


In this paper, I will propose the notion of “ecological immunity” as a useful conceptual tool for thinking about the Anthropocene. The term refers to a basic condition of all life: in order to flourish, an organism must insulate itself from its environment and maintain a stable interior space which can support the organism’s vital functions, immunizing it against the dangerous flux of its ecological environment. The history of the human species can be written as a process by which this internal environment is progressively explicated and exteriorized. The Anthropocene marks the historical moment when these strategies for immunization reach an absolute limit: as the biosphere is itself revealed to be a finite interior, the outside disappears. It is no longer sufficient to immunize the human collective against the ecological environment; instead, the challenge becomes the maintenance of the biosphere as a whole, now understood as the last immunitary container. Kim Stanley Robinson’s science fiction novel 2312, I argue, can be read as an extended allegory of the problem of ecological immunity and a perceptive exploration of its biopolitical implications.


Kim Stanley Robinson, Science Fiction, Ecocriticism, Anthropocene, Ecological Immunity

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@Journal of Ecocriticism. ISSN 1916-1549