Author Archives: Didier Fassin

About Didier Fassin

Didier Fassin is the James D. Wolfensohn Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study and a director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. In 2019, he was elected professor at the Collège de France on an annual chair. Anthropologist, sociologist, and physician, he has conducted research in Senegal, Congo, South Africa, Ecuador, and France, focusing on moral and political issues. He gave the Tanner Lectures at Berkeley on punishment, the Adorno Lectures in Frankfurt on life, and the Eric Wolf Lecture in Vienna on conspiracy theories. Recipient of the Gold Medal in anthropology and the Nomis Distinguished Scientist Award, he recently authored The Will to Punish (Oxford, 2018) and Life: A Critical User’s Manual (Polity, 2018).

Are the Two Approaches to Moral Economy Irreconcilable?

Abstract: The concept of moral economy stems from two theoretical traditions: that of E. P. Thompson, which corresponds to the norms and obligations involved in traditional economies, and has nourished the works of social historians and political anthropologists; and that of Lorraine Daston, which characterizes the values and affects regulating the activity of a given group in a given time, and has inspired historians and anthropologists of science. This essay offers a third reading attempting to reconnect these irreconcilable approaches by considering a moral economy Continue reading → Continue reading →

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.’’