James D. Wolfensohn Professor

Didier Fassin

School of Social Science 
Social Science

Didier Fassin 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. He recently conducted an ethnography of the state, through a study of urban policing as well as the justice and prison systems in France. 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. He occasionally writes for the French newspapers Le Monde and Libération. His recent books include The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry Into the Condition of Victimhood (2009), Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present (2011), Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing (2013), At the Heart of the State: The Moral World of Institutions (2015), and Prison Worlds: An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition (2016).

Dates at IAS

Faculty: Social Science

École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris Ph.D., 1988
Université Paris-Sud 11 M.P.H., 1986
Université Pierre et Marie Curie M.D., 1982
Appointments: Institut Pasteur, Ethics Committee 2014; Collège de France, Scientific and Strategic Council 2010–; City of Paris, Scientific Council 2007–; Comité pour la Santé des Exilés, President 2006–
Awards: Gold Medal of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography 2015; William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology 2010; Chevalier des Palmes Académiques 2007
Editorships: Medical Anthropology, Associate Editor 2010; Humanity 2010; Cultural Anthropology 2009–
Grants: European Research Council, Programme IDEAS
Lectures: Adorno Lectures, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main 2016; Tanner Lectures, University of California, Berkeley 2016; Roger Allan Moore Lecture, Harvard University 2012; Elizabeth Colson Lecture, Oxford University 2011
Princeton University 2010– Visiting Professor
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales 1999– Director of Studies 1999–, Founding Director, Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Enjeux Sociaux 2007–10
Université Paris Nord 1991–2009 Professeur de Classe Exceptionnelle 2007–09, Professor 1997–2007, Assistant Professor 1991–97
Médecins Sans Frontières 1999–2003 Vice President 2001–03, Administrator 1999–2001
French Institute for Research in the Andes 1989–1991 Senior Researcher
Hospital Pitié-Salpétrière 1987–1989 Assistant Professor
National Institute for Health Research 1984–1986 Junior Researcher