Graduate Course on Moral Anthropology at Princeton University

     Department of Anthropology, Spring 2012

Moral Anthropology


Instructor : Didier Fassin, Institute for Advanced Study (

Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow: Peter Locke (


Seminar Description :

Contrary to political, economic or medical anthropologies, moral anthropology does not exist as a defined subfield, in spite of the interest demonstrated by early social scientists towards moral questions. However, there has recently been a growing interest in the ethnography of moralities, ethical subjectivities and moral economies. This seminar is an endeavor to bring together the various currents, approaches and issues in this emerging subfield. We will discuss the genealogical and epistemological issues related to the anthropological study of moralities and ethics and explore the frontier between the moral and the political.


February 9:  Introduction to Moral Anthropology


February 16:  Durkheim and Moral Facts


February 23:  Foucault and Ethical Subjectivities


March 1:  E.P. Thompson and Moral Economies


March 8:  Relativism and Universalism


March 15:  Humanitarianism and Politics