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Ordinary Life in Philosophy and Anthropology Theories, Practices, Methods

In this workshop we will examine the methodological and conceptual implications of thinking with notions of ordinary life across philosophy, anthropology and kinned disciplines. We would like to detail what it means to attend to ordinary life, in theory and practice, and discuss how we as researchers might know what falls within the so-called ordinary for the people we do research with. What methodological approaches can be used to provide descriptions that are both subjective and objective? How can we articulate the ethnographic and philosophical exploration of individual and collective existence, in its most everyday, “infra-ordinary” (Perec) aspects, with the recognition of the lived experience of those who face extraordinary situations that endanger human life?

In addition to the methodological issues, these questions raise epistemological problems. While it would be tempting to consider in a metaphorical sense expressions such as “ordinary life”, “every day” or “form of life” – as if the word “life” were only a synonym for “existence”–, we wish to examine also the relevance of considering life, literally, as a biological process which is entangled with words, rules and meanings. Whether it is a question of identifying phenomena of routine and habit or of acknowledging the experience of trauma and violence that endangers physical and psychological integrity, this workshop invites ways anchored in ordinary life as a way in which to study the bodily, psychological and sociological dynamics that shape human lives, at the intersection between the biographical and the biological, the individual and the collective, the describable and the unspeakable.


Thursday 16th

Salle de séminaire, Collège de France, 3 rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris

  • 13h00

Presentation of the workshop by the organizers

  • 13h15

Opening of the Students Workshop organized by Lauren Kamili (EHESS/ADEME)

  • 13h30

Student presentations 1 “Reading and Writing Ordinary Life”

With Camille Braune (université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Antoine Cailloce (université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Eszter Horvàth (EHESS et Eötvös Lorànd University, Budapest), Florian Meier (EHESS)

  • 14h45 Break
  • 15h00

Student presentations 2 “Time and Spaces of Ordinary Life”

With Élise Boutié (EHESS), Noëlle Counord (EHESS), Daniela Jacob (EHESS Marseille)

  • 16h00 Break
  • 16h30

Student presentations 3 “Body, Health, Food”

With Simon Gérard (EHESS), Nan Nan (EHESS), Gabriel G. Roman (ULB-EHESS)

  • 17h30 Break
  • 17h45

Keynote: Clara Han (Johns Hopkins University)

Friday 17th

Salle 2, Collège de France, 12 place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005 Paris

  • 10h00

Round-Table 1 “What is the Life of Ordinary Life?”

Moderated by Perig Pitrou (CNRS-Collège de France Université PSL), with Estelle Ferrarese (Université Picardie Jules Verne), Paola Marrati (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 11h15 Break
  • 11h30

Round-Table 2 “Violence between The Ordinary and The Extraordinary”

Moderated by Lotte Segal (Edinburgh University), with Adèle Blazquez (CNRS), Marie Lecomte-Tilouine (CNRS-Collège de France Université PSL), Richard Rechtman (EHESS)

Round-Table 3 “To count and to tell: Descriptions of the Ordinary”

Moderated by Sandra Laugier (université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), with Piergiorgio Donatelli (Sapienza University, Roma), Edward Guetti (Universität Leipzig)

  • 15h45

Concluding remarks by Veena Das (Johns Hopkins University)


Organizers: Lauren Kamili (EHESS), Sandra Laugier (université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Perig Pitrou (CNRS-Collège de France Université PSL), Lotte Segal (Edinburgh University)