Author Archives: Didier Fassin

About Didier Fassin

James D. Wolfensohn Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, as well as directeur d’études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. Trained as a medical doctor, Fassin has conducted field studies in Senegal, Ecuador, South Africa, and France. His recent books in English are When Bodies Remember: Experiences and Politics of AIDS in South Africa (2007) and, with Richard Rechtman, The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood (2009). He is also coeditor, with Mariella Pandolfi, of Contemporary States of Emergency: The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Interventions (2010).

The duty to reflect, still cogent

In a recent opinion column (“The Duty to Protect, Still Urgent,” New York Times, September 13, 2013), Professor Michael Ignatieff, speaking on behalf of “those of us who have worked hard to promote the concept” of a responsibility to protect, passionately argues in favor of the use of force in Syria and more generally each time “civilians are threatened with mass killing.” Although he admits prevention through conflict resolution and legality via a Security Council vote are preferable, he observes that “when prevention fails, force becomes the last resort,” and “if the United State

Ethics of Survival: A Democratic Approach to the Politics of Life

What is the human? One way to confront this question has been, since antiquity, to distinguish the human from the animal, or rather to ask how humans are not just animals. It is well known that Aristotle’s answer was to affirm that ‘‘man is by nature a political animal’’ and that speech—or language—yields him this exclusive quality by giving him ‘‘a sense of good and evil, of just and unjust.’’