A Critical Anthropology of Morals

Rembrandt, Aristotle Before the Bust of Homer, 1653, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkMorals is the designation of a multidisciplinary research program entitled "Towards a Critical Moral Anthropology" for which Didier Fassin was awarded an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council. It was developed on both sides of the Atlantic, at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.  Started in 2008, the program ended in 2013.

The program had both a theoretical and an empirical dimension. On the one hand, it proposed an inquiry into the anthropology of morals, a new field that it intended to promote from a critical perspective, relating moral issues to their historical formation and political background. The government of the poor, the administration of asylum, and the deployment of humanitarianism are examples of objects crucial to this field. On the other hand, it implied a study of the way immigrants and minorities are treated by institutions such as the police, justice, prison, social work and mental health system in France, articulating the moral economy of these issues at the national level and the moral work of the social agents in their respective institutions. The investigation was based on the ethnographic method.

The research team was comprised of twelve social scientists: anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists. It was part of a larger scientific network in Western Europe and North America, with researchers from various disciplines interested in local moralities and ethical subjectivities as well as immigration policies and minorities issues.

© Rembrandt van Rijn/Visipix.com for the illustrations used on this website