anthropology of life
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.).
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 ?
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.
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.
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.
Reconfiguring the living From organisms to artefacts See the summary and summaries of articles House posts where the presence of ancestors,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.