chapter  7
12 Pages

Unseen Enemies

Neisseria, Desire, and Bodily Discourse
WithLisa M. DeTora

DeTora examines narratives of meningococcal disease, a serious and life-threatening illness that can often be prevented through vaccination. One of the features of nonfatal meningococcal disease is that it can literally consume bodies, leading to the loss of limbs, internal organs, cognitive function, and hearing. DeTora juxtaposes public health discourse, which highlights disability and focuses on vaccination as a preventative measure, to the narratives of Paralympian Amy Purdy, herself affected by the meningococcal virus. In Purdy, DeTora sees the existence of a “meningococcal body,” one in which both material corporeality and gender identity are radically reframed outside of typical discourses of disability and vaccination.