The International Research Network (GDRI) “Forms of Life” was officially launched in New York in April 2016 during an event titled “Contemplating Vulnerable Forms of Life.” This event followed on from several workshops organized at the Centre Marc Bloch, the Sorbonne and Humboldt University in 2014 and 2015. These exchanges enabled the building of the network forming the current GDRI. Financing for this collaborative project is being provided by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and it will be led by the Centre Marc Bloch for four years (2017-2020). The network includes 32 scholars and early career researchers: it brings together Humboldt University in Berlin, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, CUNY in New York, Doshisha University in Kyoto, La Sapienza University in Rome, and the research units of CNRS ISJPS at the Sorbonne, EPIDAPO in Los Angeles, and CURAPP-ESS in Amiens.

The project

Confronted with the spectacular emergence, since the beginning of the century, of the notion of forms of life in various domains – from sociology to ethics and politics, including anthropology – and as a major point of contact between the human and social sciences and the life sciences, this network aims to constitute and organize a coherent research field beyond disciplines and intellectual traditions.

Whether in Critical Theory, in the ordinary language philosophy of Wittgenstein and of Cavell, in the Foucault-inspired theorizing around biopolitics, or in the strands of anthropology that delve into articulations of the social and the biological, the notion of “forms of life” makes it possible, first, to elaborate new forms of critique of that which presents itself simply as given. And because it invites further questioning into the articulation of the “social” and the “vital” on which the institutions of the human world rest, this notion calls for an important renewal of the human sciences’ operational categories. Further, in a world impacted by global change, it enables the conceptualization of new vulnerabilities of human forms of life, and even of the human life form as such.

We have established a project to study the following set of concerns: a possible ethics of forms of life, one broached through the prism of human vulnerability; the politics suggested by human forms of life, by exploring their powers over capacities to act; the preservation of the global form of life in a situation of catastrophe; and, lastly, the interactions between politics, anthropology, and biology around epigenetics.

Scientific gatherings:

  • March 14, 2016, “The meaning of care in different traditions,” Doshisha University, Kyoto.
  • April 5, 2016, “Contemplating Vulnerable Forms of Life,” City University of New York.
  • July 21, 2016, “Forms of life and second nature,” Humboldt University, Berlin.
  • September 15 and 16, 2016, “The form capitalism gives to our lives,” Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin.
  • March 7 and 8, 2017, “Forms of Vulnerability, Bodies and the Self,” Doshisha University in Kyoto.
  • June 8 and 9, 2017, Workshop “Intersex: Beyond the Binaries,” EPIDAPO in Los Angeles.
  • June 26 and 27, 2017, International Conference “Martha Nussbaum: De la fragilité du bien à la justice poétique,” University of Paris I.
  • September 14 and 15, 2017, “Alternative Traditions in Contemporary Ethics,” La Sapienza University in Rome.
  • November 26 and 27, 2017, “The Avoidance and Appearance of the Child,” Johns-Hopkins University in Baltimore.