Didier Fassin

   ©Emmanuelle Marchadour

Institute for Advanced Study
School of Social Science
Einstein Drive
Princeton, NJ 08540 USA

Email: dfassin@ias.edu

Academic Assistant:
Celia Chalfoun

James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science

Didier Fassin is an anthropologist and a sociologist. Initially trained as a physician at Paris University Pierre et Marie Curie, he practiced internal medicine and taught public health, before turning to the social sciences. Having completed a Master’s degree at La Sorbonne and a PhD at EHESS, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, he became Professor at the University of Paris North and Director of Studies at EHESS. At CNRS, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, he created Iris, the Interdisciplinary Research Institute in Social Sciences, of which he was the Director. He was appointed at the Institute for Advanced Study as the James D. Wolfensohn Professor in 2009.

At the crossroads of two disciplines, he conducted studies in the field of medical anthropology, focusing on issues of power and inequalities, successively in Senegal, Ecuador and France. His research on the politics and experiences of AIDS in South Africa led him to develop the conceptual framework of the embodiment of history to account for the reproduction of social disparities and the production of heterodox interpretations in the context of the epidemic.

His interest in humanitarianism, and his involvement in the organization Médecins Sans Frontières, gave birth to a scientific program on the new forms of global interventionism, thus expanding his previous work on the politics of life. Attentive to lexical changes, their meaning for our apprehension of the world and their consequences for policies, he analyzed the reformulation of injustice as suffering, violence as trauma, and resistance as resilience through empirical studies realized in various international contexts of conflicts and disasters.

Supported by the program Ideas of the European Research Council, Didier Fassin’s most recent project explores how immigrants, refugees, and minorities are treated in France. Taking institutions such as the police, justice and prison, as sites of articulation between public policies and discourses and agents’ everyday practices, he proposes a political and moral anthropology of the state and reflects on the contribution of ethnography to democracy.


Writing the World of Policing. The Difference Ethnography Makes (editor), The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2017.

The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood (with Richard Rechtman), Korean version, Badabooks Publishing Co. Ltd, Seoul, Korea, 2016, translated by Bomoon Choi.

Didier Fassin entrevistado por Debora Diniz, Andrea Loyola, Debora Diniz (editors), EDUERJ, Rio de Janeiro, 2016.

La razón humanitaria. Una historia moral del tiempo presente, Prometeo Editorial, 2016.

Quando i corpi ricordano. Esperienze e politiche del l'aids in Sud Africa, Argo, 2016.

Ripoliticizzare il mondo, Ombre Corte, Verona, 2014, translated by Chiara Pilotto.

Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing, Polity, Cambridge, 2013.

If Truth Be Told. The Politics of Public Ethnography (editor), Durham, Duke University Press, 2017.

Juger, Réprimer, Accompagner. Essai sur la Morale de l'État, Seuil, Paris, 2013.

La Question Morale. Une Anthologie Critique (editor, with Samuel Lézé), Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2013

Economies Morales Contemporaines (editor, with Jean-Sébastien Eideliman), La Découverte, series Recherches, Paris, 2012.

Moral Anthropology (editor), Wiley-Blackwell, series Companion, Malden, MA, 2012

L'Ombre du monde: Une anthropologie de la condition carcérale, Seuil, 2015.

Humanitarian Reason. A Moral History of the Present (translation by Rachel Gomme), University of California Press, Berkeley, 2011

La Raison Humanitaire. Une Histoire Morale du Temps Présent, Gallimard-Seuil, series Hautes Études, Paris, 2010

Punir: Une passion contemporaine, Seuil, January 2017.

La Force de l’Ordre. Anthropologie de la Police des Quartiers, Le Seuil, series La Couleur des idées, Paris, 2011.

Contemporary States of Emergency. The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Interventions (editor, with Mariella Pandolfi), Zone Books, New York, 2010

Les Nouvelles Frontières de la Société Française (editor), La Découverte, series Bibliothèque de l’Iris, Paris, 2010

Prison Worlds. An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition, Polity, Cambridge, 2016, translated by Rachel Gomme.

The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood (translation Rachel Gomme), Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2009

L’Empire du Traumatisme. Enquête sur la Condition de Victime (with Richard Rechtman), series La Bibliothèque des savoirs, Flammarion, Paris, 2007

Les Politiques de l’Enquête. Épreuves Ethnographiques (editor, with Alban Bensa), La Découverte, series Bibliothèque de l’Iris, Paris, 2008

When Bodies Remember. Experience and Politics of AIDS in South Africa (translation by Amy Jacobs and Gabrielle Varro), University of California Press, Berkeley, series Public anthropology, 2007

La fuerza del orden: Una ethnographía del accionar policial en las periferias urbanas, Silo XXI, Buenos Aires, translated by Andrea Sosa Varrotti, 2016.

Quand les Corps se Souviennent. Expériences et Politiques du Sida en Afrique du Sud, La Découverte, series Armillaire, Paris, 2006

Les Constructions de l’Intolérable. Etudes d’Anthropologie et d’Histoire sur les Frontières de l’Espace Moral (editor, with Patrice Bourdelais), La Découverte, series Recherches, Paris, 2005.

Le Gouvernement des Corps (editor, with Dominique Memmi), Éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, series Cas de figure, Paris, 2004