Didier Fassin

   ©Emmanuelle Marchadour

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

Email: dfassin@ias.edu

Academic Assistant:
Munirah Bishop


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 at the Hospital of La Pitié Salpétrière, 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 was the founding director of IRIS, the Interdisciplinary Research Institute in Social Sciences. In 2009, he was appointed at the Institute for Advanced Study as the James D. Wolfensohn Professor.

At the crossroads of two disciplines, he initially conducted studies in 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 of the epidemic. Having been involved with Médecins Sans Frontières as vice-president, he launched a scientific program on global interventionism in various international contexts of conflicts and disasters, analyzing the implications of speaking of injustice as suffering, violence as trauma, and resistance as resilience. He also investigated immigration and asylum policies as part of a collective project on borders and boundaries supported by the French National Agency for Research.

Laureate of the program Ideas of the European Research Council, he developed an approach to political and moral anthropology which he put to work through a ten-year ethnography of the French state, conducting fieldwork on police, justice and prison. His most recent inquiry is a critical engagement with philosophical approaches to punishment, which was the matter of his Tanner Lectures on Human Values at the University of California, Berkeley, and to life, which was the topic of his Adorno Lectures, at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. Occasionally writing for newspapers and news magazines and participating in radio and television programs on issues related to his research, he developed a theoretical reflection on the public presence of the social sciences, which he presented in his recipient lecture for the Gold Medal in anthropology at the Swedish Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences.



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.


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

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

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

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