Friends Public Lecture by Didier Fassin

Critique of Punitive Reason

As the United States, after a long period of extreme and discriminatory repression of crime that has produced the largest carceral population in the world, is beginning to revise its sentencing and correctional policies, it is urgent to return to three foundational questions: What is punishment? Why do we punish? Who gets punished? This lecture will propose a critical inquiry into the definition, justifications, and distribution of punishment based on ethnographic studies conducted on the police, the justice apparatus, and the prison system.

This public lecture by Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor in the School of Social Science, is sponsored by the Friends of the Institute for Advanced Study.

This talk will be live streamed at

Date & Time

May 08, 2019 | 5:30pm


Wolfensohn Hall