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Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit



Christian Sorace

Colorado College

National Extinction, Planetary Survival: Mongolian Avant-Garde Poetry on a Dying Planet 


In this paper, drawing from the work of Peter Sloterdijk and Donna Haraway, I define the nation-state as an immune system, which is no longer able to guarantee immune protections for its residents. The nation-state form structurally cannot address planetary catastrophes, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and global heating. Nations acting in their own interests, reinforcing their own immunitary defenses, disregard and imperil the collective survival of the planet and multi-species life forms that inhabit it. As Sloterdijk puts it, “The reason of nations still extends no further than preserving jobs on the Titanic.” The dialectic between survival and extinction of the nation-state and planet is the dilemma of our time.


At the same time, Sloterdijk notes that we are far from becoming “post-national.”  Across the globe, people have climbed even further into the immunitary bunker of their nations hoping to keep the unfolding disasters on the outside. In this paper, I both translate into English and examine the writing of avant-garde Mongolian poet B. Galsansukh whose poetry reverberates with the terrors of capitalist globalization and living on a dying planet. Galsansukh is also a member of the far-right Blue Mongolia (Khökh Mongol bülgem) and often wears a silver swastika necklace in his public appearances. For Galsansukh, militant anti-Chineseness and nationalism are immunological responses “necessary to save a small country like Mongolia from extinction.”  I suggest that the preoccupation with national extinction in Galsansukh’s work both inscribes and obscures the paradoxes of collective survival. 


In conclusion, I turn to Peter Sloterdijk’s curious concept of “co-immumism” as a project of collaboratively creating and implementing a “global immune design” in which we must finally learn to live together, or not live at all. 


In-person seminar taking place at the Mond seminar room (limited number of attendees) and live streamed via zoom – please contact should you wish to attend and for further information.


Tuesday, 16 November, 2021 - 16:30 to 18:00
Event location: 
Mond Building Seminar Room, Mongolia & Inner Asia Studies Unit, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane Cambridge CB2 3RF