Discover the program of the 15 seminar sessions


  • Monday, the 27th of March (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Philippe Descola (EHESS), "Images as ontological indexes"

Moderated by Romain Huret (EHESS)

Session in English

Images serve, among other things, to stimulate and organize memory, to convey information and to express emotions. Beyond these universal functions, they also have the power to make present and to transmit what we can call ontologies, that is to say, sets of qualities detected in beings and things that provide the elementary bricks out of which the processes of differentiated worlding are activated. The four main forms of worlding are expressed in a wide variety of images, answering to quite heterogeneous visual codes and animated by different forms of agency, all of which will be examined in the course of the seminar.


  • [CANCELLED] Tuesday, the 28th of March (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Eve Chiapello (EHESS), "Financialization of public policies"

Moderated by Liliana Doganova (Mines ParisTech)

Session in English

Since 2016, my research program has aimed at studying the way in which social or environmental issues are problematized and framed with tools specific to finance.
In particular, I have been interested in the transformation of the financing circuits of public policies related to these issues. This move is due in particular to the desire to mobilize private financial actors in order to bridge so-called “financing gaps”. It has some consequences for the organization of public action or the public service provision. For example, financial actors became targets of the public policies because they need to be attracted and convinced. This is what I designate as " financialization of public policies". It combines a transformation of the configurations of actors involved in the design and execution of public policies and changes in the instruments of government. I will present an introduction to these issues.


  • Wednesday, the 29th of March (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Isabelle Ville (EHESS), "Plurality of figures of disability"

Moderated by Brigitte Derlon (EHESS)

Session in French

Disability has been tackled by the social sciences through the sociology of deviance, then disability studies, which have been closely aligned with the human rights movement. A redefinition of the object and its boundaries allows for the production of a version of knowledge on disability capable of articulating the contrasting visions that precede and others still, such as those stemming from the theories of care. A first approach consists in describing the various figures of disability produced by certain arrangements of knowledge, powers, contingencies and subjectivities, carried by different actors, at a given time and in a given space. What is the nature of the issue arising from these arrangements? Which responses are made and for what reasons? What shifts and transformations do they entail? Among these figures: those of the 'good poor', the 'educable', the victim, the 'ordinary hero'... Among the responses: charitable assistance, special needs education, social rights, rehabilitation, inclusion...


  • [CANCELLED] Friday, the 31st of March (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Giorgio Blundo (EHESS), "Global like a Chinese motorcycle: ethnographying a commodity chain between China and Africa"

Moderated by Eloi Fiquet (EHESS)

Session in English

Social science research on interconnections within the Global South has focused more on human mobilities than on material circulations. This also applies to the literature on relations between China and the African continent, where  ethnographies on people in motion (entrepreneurs, traders, intermediaries, students, migrants) abound, but where the economic sectors and networks invested by these actors have not been sufficiently addressed. There results an incomplete representation of their trajectories and a lack of understanding of the material dimension of the exchanges they take part in.

This talk proposes an entry resolutely focused on the biographies of "objects" and commodities circulating within the supply chains linking China to Africa. The results of a study on the Chinese motorbike supply chain, a product that embodies the growth of trade relations between the Middle Kingdom and Africa, will be mobilized. By means of an ethnography travelling between the globalized factories of the industrial districts of Guangdong and Chongqing and the port of Lomé in Togo,  some novel facets of Sino-African relations will be presented. Commercial and industrial exchanges within the global South give rise to new configurations of co-presence and co-production, which contribute to the transformation of consumption patterns, cultural styles, entrepreneurial models and economic development.


  • Wednesday, the 5th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Chowra Makaremi (CNRS), "An off-site ethnography of post-revolution Iran"

Moderated by : Hamit Bozarslan (EHESS)

Session in English

What should orient research agendas: data’s availability, or grey zones of knowledge that require clarification? As boundaries of empirical research are delineated by access to the field, even the most impartial research remains skewed towards practices of power, and particularly the topography of its impunity. But how to think about empirical knowledge beyond field investigation? Based on the case of Iran, this talk is an invitation to open new paths in the study of ‘locked’ societies, by adapting our methods and epistemology to the global circulation of norms, data and people. Through the anthropology of the State and violence, archive ethnography and the use of new technologies, it experiments trans-disciplinary methods in the production of empirical study "off-site", in order to fill a substantive gap in the history of the long the Iranian Revolution (1979-1989), and how its legacy reappears in todays’ revolutionary situation.


  • [CANCELLED] Thursday, the 6th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Cléo M. Carastro (EHESS), "Polytheisms and Cosmologies: Comparative Approaches to Relations to the Invisible"

Moderated by Leopoldo Iribarren (EHESS)

Session in English

Are there specificities in how religious practices inform social life in polytheistic regimes? And if so, which ones? This talk is grounded in a comparative investigation of antagonistic cosmologies in ancient and contemporary societies, by summoning up the problem of the figuration of invisible beings and powers. Among the phenomena that relate to the presentification of the invisible, particular attention will be paid to how humans and non-humans interweave their agentivities, which will make it possible to raise anew the question of the relationship between action and autonomy. To do so, the Athenian theatrical experience and some of its contemporary readings will be explored to think the relationship between bodies, rituals and collectives.

  • Friday, the 7th of April (15:00-17:00, Paris time)

Juliette Cadiot (EHESS), "The society of thieves. The definition of economic crime under Stalin."

Moderated by Marc Elie (CNRS)

Session in English

In the historical literature on Stalin's repressions, punishments for economic practices have scarcely been studied, and corruption of the elites was considered inconsequential in the context of terror, in contrast to that of Brezhnev's ageing socialism. Yet, in August 1932, Stalin decided to sanction thieves of public property, including those who would steal grain from the fields out of starvation, or leaders who would embezzle public money: they were susceptible of being sentenced to either the death penalty or 10 years detention in the camps. After the war, Stalin reiterated his earlier experiment, again in the context of famine, with punishments for thieves ranging from 7 to 25 years in the camps. And by the time Stalin died, half of the inmates of the Gulag camps had been found guilty of "theft": 1.2 million people were imprisoned for this crime in March 1953. The theft of socialist property was more severely punished than the theft of personal property, or even murder. In this session this legislation will be reviewed, along with its implementation and how the courts records allow us to describe the practices of corruption, the criminal networks and the practices of intimidation that were at the heart of the Stalinist society, the society of thieves.


  • Tuesday, the 11th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

 Etienne Anheim (EHESS), "The Annales: the Journal, the School"

Moderated by Leopoldo Iribarren (EHESS)

Session in French

The international fame of the so-called "Ecole des Annales" has somewhat outshined the journal to the benefit of a much larger intellectual galaxy, backed by the institution of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). Yet the journal, founded in 1929, predates the use of the term 'Ecole des Annales' and the very founding of EHESS in 1975. Almost a century after the foundational moment incarnated by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre, this talk aims to implement a reassessment that combines intellectual history and social history, in an attempt to clearly distinguish the journal from the School, and to understand the relations between these two historiographic realities.


  • Wednesday, the 12th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris Time)

Otto Pfersmann (EHESS), Olivier Cayla (EHESS) "The Major Controversies of Contemporary Contitutional Law"

Moderated by Rainer Maria Kiesow (EHESS)

Session in French

 In the wake of the establishment of modern constitutionalism in the late eighteenth century in the West, the question of whether or not the rulers’ acts are 'constitutional' imposed itself as a critical issue, since it was understood as a legal qualification determining the obedience of the ruled or their legitimate disobedience. This fundamentally political and legal question thus sparked some famous doctrinal controversies, apparently legal in form, but which, from the point of view of certain theoriticians, remained difficult to resolve as long as they remained mere 'opinions' of law professors.

Following the establishment, in modern times, of fundamental rights and principles formulated in specific texts - constitutional or international treaties - which new and specialized jurisdictions have been tasked with interpreting ito impose on governments (especially the legislature) conformity of their acts, one could have hoped that a consolidated doctrine would be established allowing for an increasingly precise and structured knowledge of the data in question. However, precisely the opposite is true: the controversies between those who seek to analyse, understand, reconstruct and systematize the data of positive law are increasing in complexity. It is just as difficult to find one's way through the maze of legal orders as it is to build a sound and compelling opinion.

This talk will stage the dialogue of two constitutional lawyers who take controversial views on these issues, and it will cover all the aspects of the contemporary debate and will focus as much on questions relating to the nature of the legal system as on the concrete meaning of the founding texts and their jurisprudential reviewing. In order to better understand these issues, the discussion will be based on concrete cases decided by French, supranational and other courts, in particular in the US, Germany, Italy and Austria.


  • Thursday, the 13th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Hamit Bozarslan (EHESS), "Anti-Democracy in the 21st Century: Iran, Russia, Turkey"

Moderated by Anne-Lorraine Bujon (Esprit review)

Session in English

Is anti-democracy the future? The Iranian, Russian and Turkish regimes are, undoubtedly, of that opinion.
Behind their democratic façade, all three regimes display the identical relentless ploughing-on-aggressively. The cult of an infallible leader invested with a "historical mission"; the "purity" of a nation humiliated too long and the determination to take revenge on a corrupting West; the mobilization of religion; the organization of a parallel state based on personal connections, corruption and the monopolization of resources; the development of a security apparatus meant to respond to a skilfully cultivated paranoia vis-à-vis "external and internal enemies"; the institutionalization of an alternative reality that evades the facts...
A staggering journey to the heart of the radicalization logic of authoritarian regimes, this comparison between Iran, Russia and Turkey at the beginning of the 21st century is a powerful warning to our democracies lacking self-confidence.


  • Monday, the 17th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Marie-Vic Ozouf (EHESS) and Nicolas Verdier (CNRS, EHESS), "French Geography Through the Lens of Interdisciplinary, and Through Time"

Moderated by Filippo Ronconi (EHESS)

Session in French

In France, geography was, for a long time, the auxiliary science of history before it won its independence by asserting its own epistemology and specific methods. However, it has always maintained links with other sciences. These rely on reciprocal borrowings and cross-fertilizations. In this talk, we shall not engage with the links to the natural sciences, from which the French school of geography has stemmed at the end of the 19th century. We will investigate the links -- well before and after the spatial turn – that have brought geography closer to the other social sciences, around objects, concepts, problems and methods.


  • Tuesday, the 18th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Simona Cerutti (EHESS) and Emilia Schijman (EHESS), "Writing to authority in the past and in the present"

Moderated by Jean-Frédéric Schaub (EHESS)

Session in French

The widespread circulation of requests addressed to authorities in very different times and spaces is indeed noteworthy. Today, as in early modern times, the highest political authority in most countries across the globe are every year the recipients of thousands of letters from citizens, requesting that their particular situation be taken into account.
How are we to work on an object lying at the junction of such disparate chronologies? What " toolkit " are we to mobilize to identify the specificity of each source and at the same time to situate it within a traditional model of communication between the rulers and the ruled? A variety of disciplinary backgrounds are essential to examine the sources from different perspectives, allowing for a fresh outlook, and thus reconstruct the experience of social actors as faithfully as possible.
This talk aims to present the experiment of a seminar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes coordinated by a historian of the early modern period and a sociologist, and propose to engage in a reflection on the contributions and limitations of an interdisciplinary approach.

  • Wednesday, the 19th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau (EHESS) and Hélène Dumas (CNRS), "Confronting the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda (April-July 1994)"

Moderated by Richard Rechtman (EHESS)

Session in French

Between April and July 1994, one million Tutsis were murdered in Rwanda during the last genocide of the 20th century, especially notable for the rapidity of its execution and the cruelty of its killing practices. By the end of the three-month massacre, only 300,000 people had survived.
Two researchers from Cespra will discuss the subject, focusing on the question of their years-long confrontation with this research object: what methods to use? what research ethics to implement? what contacts to establish with the survivors? with the killers? what action to take in France to ensure recognition of the country's responsibilities? and finally, what effect on the researchers themselves of their encounter with this object? Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau will evoke his first encounter, in 2008, in Kigali, with this genocide; Hélène Dumas will elaborate on her career as a researcher and her engagement, in Rwanda and in France; finally Richard Rechtman, a psychiatrist and an anthropologist, specialized in the genocide in Cambodia, will discuss their points of view.


  • Thursday, the 20th of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Eric Monnet (EHESS) and Benjamin Lemoine (CNRS), "The institutions of money and debt"

Moderated by Eve Chiapello (EHESS)

Session in English

From a macroeconomic and accounting perspectives, money and debt are two sides of the same coin. But such an assertion overlooks the institutions and practices that make money and debt separated or fungibles objects. In most cases, the empirical relationships towards money or debt are different.  Money is not always perceived as a debt. And many conditions should be met to transform a debt into an asset deemed as liquid and safe as money. This course opens and deepens an interdisciplinary approach – combining history, sociology, economics and political economy – to study how (public or private) money and (public or private) debt are treated as counterparts or, on the contrary, separated objects. The intellectual project investigates balance-sheet encounters, interactions and frictions of state assets / private liabilities, on the one hand, and private asset / state liabilities on the other hand. Through this perspective, we study important economic and political objects such as public debt, private (over)indebtedness, exchange rate regimes, central bank interventions or banking regulation. In each case, we highlight the nexus of public-private financial and monetary interests and emphasize different historical configurations over time. A running theme of the course is to question the social and institutional process that make money and debt safe.

  • Friday, the 21st of April (15:00-16:00, Paris time)

Jérôme Dokic (EHESS), "The sublime as an interdisciplinary object"

Moderated by Nicole Hall (Institut Paul Bocuse)

Session in English

An interdisciplinary object is an object or a set of phenomena whose description or adequate explanation requires the cooperation of several disciplines and methods. The sublime is one such object. The experience of the sublime, which is triggered by perceptually, emotionally and intellectually overwhelming scenes, has been extensively described by traditional and contemporary philosophical aesthetics. Yet I will argue, on the basis of some concrete case studies, that further progress in our understanding of this experience and its place in the economy of the mind is only possible through the contributions of the cognitive and social sciences.