Collegium Helveticum
The sand of the Sahara colors in orange the snow of the pass between Italy and France. © Julien Benard

Politics and Poetics of Exile
by Didier Fassin


Participation is free of charge and does not require registration.

Refugees from Afghanistan or Somalia, Iran or Cameroon, who have fled persecution, conflicts or poverty, often travel for years across deserts, mountains and seas. Alone or with their family, they face natural hardships, armed groups, police violence, and people’s hostility, in search of a safe place. Based on a five-year ethnography at the border between Italy and France, the lecture will connect scenes from fieldwork and writings, exploring the politics and poetics of exile. This research, which has been conducted with Anne-Claire Defossez, sociologist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, has received the support of the Nomis Foundation in Zürich.

The lecture will be followed by a conversation between Marielle Macé and Didier Fassin.

Didier Fassin

Anthropologist, sociologist and physician, Didier Fassin is Professor at the Collège de France, on the Chair Moral Questions and Political Issues in Contemporary Societies. He also teaches at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the School forAdvanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris. With fieldwork conducted in Latin America, Africa and France, his research has been focused on asylum and immigration, justice and punishment, and the politics of life. Former vice-president of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), he is is the president of the Health Committee for Exiles. His recent books include Life. A Critical User’s Manual (2018), The Worlds of Public Health. Anthropological Excursions (2023), and, with Anne-Claire Defossez, L’Exil, toujours recommencé. Chronique de la frontière (upcoming January 2024).

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