Life: A Critical User's Manual

Front Cover
Wiley, Jul 16, 2018 - Social Science - 150 pages
How can we think of life in its dual expression, matter and experience, the living and the lived? Philosophers and, more recently, social scientists have offered multiple answers to this question, often privileging one expression or the other – the biological or the biographical. But is it possible to conceive of them together and thus reconcile naturalist and humanist approaches? Using research conducted on three continents and engaging in critical dialogue with Wittgenstein, Benjamin, and Foucault, Didier Fassin attempts to do so by developing three concepts: forms of life, ethics of life, and politics of life.

In the conditions of refugees and asylum seekers, in the light of mortality statistics and death benefits, and via a genealogical and ethnographical inquiry, the moral economy of life reveals troubling tensions in the way contemporary societies treat human beings. Once the pieces of this anthropological composition are assembled, like in Georges Perec’s jigsaw puzzle, an image appears: that of unequal lives.

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About the author (2018)

Didier Fassin is Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His works include Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing and Prison Worlds: An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition

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