Auto-co-immunity: Ecological Thought Of Mourning / Derrida Today Conference 2022

Hello! It is a pleasure to be here, in this virtual scenario.

I want to Thank Nicole and the organizers for letting me change in the last minute the title of the presentation at the program.

I decided to change the presentation when I was doing the powerpoint. I thought a lot about the pertinence of do it or not. Finally, I decided that I will feel more comfortable presenting what I am researching right now “Auto-co-immunity: Ecological Thought of Mourning” that something that has been already published as a chapter title “Beyond Borders: autoimmune practices in a state of law (an aporia)” at the book Debating and Defining Borders. Philosophical and Theoretical Perspectives.

For that text, I used the metaphor of the triple suicide for three events:

1. biopolitics as a symbolic and strategic double suicide.

2. the state of law failure as trauma.

3.  and the sovereign exception as the vicious cycle of repression.

To deconstruct the euphemistically policies of certain autoimmune practices at the frontier zones, which avoid in the name of sovereignty human mobility between two or more countries in the European Union.

Then I stepped back in this category to locate the transition among auto-co-immunity and autoimmune because I was trying to differ the meaning in community and immune to do the labor of mourning (by the hand of Jean Luc-Nancy´s book The Disavowed Community).

In that sense, Munus, the Latin term that community and immune share is the aporia of the labor of mourning because without the event that interrupts my vulnerability (my absolute immunity) is impossible (as the possibility of the deconstruction) to name the death. Quoting Derrida: “The formalization of these auto-immune law was there carried out around the community as auto-co-immunity (…), as well as the —auto-co-immunity of humanity and particularly the auto immune humanitarian.”  

From the time when I sent the proposal for the 2020 version of this congress several circumstances have changed: besides the global confinement, the pandemic, the war and all the situations that circumscribe those phenomena; in 2019, a day after I sent the chapter I mentioned to the editors, my younger brother was killed in Oaxaca, México. That major event, following Derrida, represented a turning point in my life.

That means that the last three years I have been dedicated in doing my “mourning labor” (again following Derrida). Which implies that my research interests change abruptly since that year and I started studying other limits, borders or frontiers.

I dedicated more than two decades to perform Critical Border Studies, comparing several frontier zones in different continents, but after 2019 I decided that I have nothing else to say about a phenomena that I still think is a very juicy business for many people, institutions, countries and unfortunately less important are the persons that have died at any border, not mattering if the border is a sea, a coast or a wall between two or more countries.


As I do since I started reading Derrida in 2002, I went back to his texts when my brother was killed. I started thinking in first place about the impossibility of forgiveness. Then in the difference between law and justice. Obviously, in the ontology of the death (the aporia of the death) and specifically in the category of mourning and in the labor of mourning.

In these three years, the confinement also helped me to do a simultaneous labor: teaching and mourns so I was able to deconstruct several categories in which I was thinking and which circumscribes the homicide of a brother.

In some courses of ontology that I dictated in last few years I backed up several times to Rams: Uninterrupted Dialogue ~ Between Two Infinities, the Poem. The verse of Celan felt very defferant each time: “Die Welt ist fort, ich muss dich tragen.” Because this verse translates the significance not only about the loss but also the event to come.


At the same time, I started thinking in Spinoza by Derrida´s hand, especially in the glossary of the affects that we can find at the Ethics, in the conatus, and I began to contrast them with the Freudian pulsion of death. So, I decided to start a new research field named: Ecology of Affect.

I recover, in first place, an ecological thought since a Boaventura de Sousa Santos’ category: ecology of knowledge (which opposes to the monoculture of knowledge and scientific rigor) deconstructing a more common use of human capital or economy of knowledge. In that sense, following Timothy Morton, “Ecology is the name of the thinking that reveals more and more of these push–pull scenarios, these veerings.”


In this Ecology of affect I proposed the deconstruction of several categories: autoimmune, death, hospitality, plasticity, community, friendship, mourning, nature, synthetic, artificial, animality, etc. I deconstruct most of them for my previous research about Critical Border Studies. And I found in the autoimmune category this special link with the ecological thought: specifically, when the labor of mourning aloud to understand the effect of the spectrally in community.


After these three years I can conclude that: The labor of mourning is also the ecology of affect, it is friendship, it is responsibility, it is freedom, it is ethics, it is care, it is making a community beyond the borders of the one who is already dead, the death of each one; it is embracing the earth in which we bury our dead. Give thanks, welcome those who are now only in memory and those who will join in the other labor of mourning that is to come. Embrace the event of death with unconditional hospitality. Receive what death gives us or we give to death.

Roxana Rodríguez Ortiz

June 12, 2022

Derrida Today Conference

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