anthropology of life

Research Team

The “Anthropology of Life” team is part of the Social Anthropology Laboratory of the Collège de France

The college of France

The Social Anthropology Laboratory

Our research

A team led by Perig Pitrou

What is the anthropology of life?

The anthropology of life studies the organization of human societies by analyzing the techniques invented to interact with living beings.

All over the planet, the members of our team carry out ethnographic surveys to compare the diversity of conceptions of life and reflect on the impact of biotechnologies on the contemporary world. The interdisciplinary dialogue with other sciences helps us to consider human lives as a phenomenon at the interface between the social and the biological.

Methodological rigor and the effort to understand cultural differences are at the heart of our collective approach, which values cooperation, the dissemination of knowledge and affirms the ability of science to contribute to the development of social projects.


Humans in the living world

Awareness of the threat weighing on ecological and social balances leads humans to wonder about the means of ensuring a better coexistence with the living world. These interactions are organized through conceptions of life, material cultures and institutions (religious, political, economic, legal, etc.).

Biosphere 2. Arizona. P. Pitrou
Yam ceremony. Papua New Guinea. L. Coupaye

An anthropological fact

In addition to the life sciences necessary for a better understanding of environments, anthropology is essential for reflecting on the diversity of techniques and forms of social organization invented by humans to live on our planet.

In this context, the “Anthropology of Life” team seeks to understand what life does to humans and what humans do to life. 

What life does to humans

How are human societies built around interactions with vital processes (birth, growth, reproduction, illness or health, aging, death), which manifest themselves in human bodies or in animals, plants, microorganisms ?

Fight the fire. Cerrado quilombolas. GM Fagundes
Chimpanzee Ai conducts experiments. Japan. G. Daly.

What humans do to life

How do human societies develop knowledge about life and technical knowledge to exercise an action on organisms and ecological systems? What are the forms of social organization associated with practices such as animal husbandry, agriculture, medicine or biotechnology?

Life in society

The anthropology of life studies, from a comparative perspective, the techniques that humans develop to interact with living beings and natural environments. A specific reflection is devoted to the role of artefacts and images in these interactions.

Pirarucu fishing. Amazon Estuary. C. Sautchuk
Potato offerings. O. Ange

Anthropological comparison

We seek to establish the links between conceptions of life and forms of social organization, by observing a wide range of activities: domestication of living things, hunting, fishing, ritual techniques, biomedicine, biobanks, biomimicry, bioart, robotics, life modeling.


Saignements rituels devant des pousses végétales, Italie. S. D_Onofrio
Ritual bleeding in front of vegetable shoots. Italy. SD Onofrio

We adopt a broad theoretical framework: anthropology of techniques, Science & Technology Studies, anthropology of life forms and biopolitics, anthropology of nature and living environments, anthropology of art and image, linguistic anthropology, historical anthropology.

We conduct participant observations by applying a plurality of ethnographic methods: semi-directive interview, creation of operational chains, speech transcription, ethogram, image analysis, film ethnography, analysis of material culture, etc.

We promote interdisciplinary dialogue between the natural sciences, the humanities and social sciences, the humanities and artistic practices.


On very diverse survey sites, the anthropological study of the links between life and technology is based on major research themes: treatment of plants, interactions with animals, exploration of ecological systems, ritual practices and collective organizations, laboratories science, artistic creation, curating exhibitions, collections and museums, historical anthropology and anthropology of contemporary knowledge.

Microfluidics experiment to study the origin of life. Paris. C.Jeancolas

Our news

Seedling Biospheres in Outer Space

Off Earth Atlas  Project  University College London Collège de France, Université PSL Team « Anthropologie de la vie », Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale Maison Française d’Oxford (UMIFRE 11

Read More »

The team

directed by Perig Pitrou

Around the senior members, the team intends to promote the integration of young researchers in the research professions.

The integration of the team into an international network is guaranteed by the presence of researchers linked to institutions in several countries: France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Russia, United States, Mexico, Brazil.


Perig Pitrou

Research director, team leader, CNRS

Olivia Angel

Associate Professor

Joffrey Becker

Chaire de Professeur Junior, ENSEA - ETIS

Teresa Castro

Lecturer, U. Paris 3

Ludovic Coupaye

Reading, UCL

Pierre-Olivier Dittmar

Lecturer, EHESS

Frederique Ildefonse

Research Director, CNRS

Leopoldo Iribarren

Lecturer, EHESS

Katarina Kerestetzi

Researcher, CNRS

Fabien Milanovic

Teacher Researcher, SupBiotech

Guilhem Olivier

Professor, UNAM

Marie Lecomte-Tilouine

Research Director, CNRS

Marie Mauze

Research Director, CNRS

Salvatore d'Onofrio

Professor, University of Palermo

Istvan Praet

Anthropologist, Durham University

Carlos Sautchuk

Professor, U. Brasília

Wiktor Stoczkowski

Director of Studies, EHESS

David Dupuis


Postdoctoral researchers

Camille Bellet

U. Manchester

Gabriela Bezerra Daly

Fyssen Foundation

Emilie Letouzey

Fyssen Foundation

Cyrille Jeancolas

Durham University

Fabien Provost

Kings College

PhD students

Indira Beraud


Lea Bernard


Michiko Borisova

EHESS-U. Yakutsk

Giulia Cantisani

U. Sapienza-EHESS

Elie Danziger


Simon Gerard

EHESS-Labex coral

Lauren Kamili


Selma Lepart


PictureRoman (1)
Gabriel Roman


Nolwen Vouiller

University of Liège-EHESS


Collective research programs

Thanks to the support of the Collège de France, the CNRS, the PSL University and the Fyssen Foundation, the members have been involved in collective research programs focusing on the relationships between living beings and artefacts, domestication and manufacturing. life, bioart and biodesign, biomimicry, life modelling, exobiology and space exploration.

IMOVIE research program
Of Earth Atlas

Doctoral projects

The collective reflection is nourished by doctoral research funded by institutions (EHESS, CNRS, Labex Corail, ADEME, ANRT, CRI, ENS) promoting interdisciplinary approaches. Several theses are prepared within the framework of international joint supervision.

Postdoctoral projects

Thanks to the support of foundations (Fyssen, Wellcome Trust) and research institutions (U. PSL, U. Oxford, Kings College, U. Princeton), several members of the team are engaged in postdoctoral research.

White nights in Yakutia

Conferences, workshops, seminars

Our collective reflection is accompanied by a program of innovative scientific activities, which federates an international network around the themes of the anthropology of life, a field in full development. Symposiums, workshops and seminars are all opportunities to publicize our work, and to initiate international and interdisciplinary collaborations.


The results of our research are the subject of special issues in peer-reviewed journals, French and international, and collective works published in France, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Japan and Australia.

Valorization of research

We ensure the promotion of research by organizing round tables, film festivals, science & art projects and by giving interviews in the media.

In connection with the activities of the “La vie à l'oeuvre” collective, the team's expertise is also sought by public and private institutions questioning the place of living systems and biotechnologies in contemporary societies.

The Social Anthropology Laboratory

The “Anthropology of Life” research team is housed at the Social Anthropology Laboratory (LAS). It thus benefits from the institutional links of the Collège de France and the influence of the University of Paris Sciences et Lettres, the EHESS and the CNRS.