Didier Fassin

Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor in the School of Social Science, is an anthropologist and a sociologist who has conducted fieldwork in Senegal, Ecuador, South Africa, and France. Trained as a physician in internal medicine and public health, he dedicated his early research to medical anthropology, illuminating important dimensions of the AIDS epidemic, mortality disparities, and global health. He later developed the field of critical moral anthropology, which explores the historical, social, and political signification of moral forms involved in everyday judgment and action as well as in the making of international relations with humanitarianism. His current work is on punishment, asylum, inequality, and the politics of life, and he is developing a reflection on the public presence of the social sciences.

After the COVID-19 pandemic saw public health erupt into the world’s consciousness, Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor in the School of Social Science, gave a series of lectures at the Collège de France in Paris proposing a new analysis of the moral and political issues at stake in the practice of public health. The lectures have been published by Polity Press in a book titled The Worlds of Public Health: Anthropological Excursions.

After the death of several dozens of refugees, most of them fleeing Afghanistan, in a shipwreck off the coasts of Calabria, in the South of Italy, on the 26th of February 2023, Lorenzo Alunni, current Member in the School of Social Science, and Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor, wrote a column for Le Monde, analyzing how Europe had shifted from a politics of rescue to a criminalization of humanitarianism.