Philippe Descola was born in Paris in 1949. He first studied philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud before moving on to ethnology at the University of Paris X and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE) (6th section). Appointed project director by the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), he undertook an ethnographic study from 1976 to 1979 with the Jivaros Achuar indigenous people in Ecuadorian Amazon. His special focus was the environment, and his research became the topic of a doctoral thesis in ethnology under the supervision of Claude Lévi-Strauss, which he defended in 1983. Appointed professor to the Chair in Anthropology of Nature at the Collège de France in 2000, Philippe Descola also began directing the Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale (Laboratory of Social Anthropology) (UMR 7130), a joint project between the Collège de France, the EHESS, and the CNRS, while still ontinuing as director of studies at the EHESS. He has given lectures in over forty universities and academic institutions abroad. He has published many books, among which: La Nature domestique, published in 1986 by Éditions de la MSH and translated into both English and Spanish, Les Lances du crepuscule, published in 1993, La Remontée de l’Amazone, co-written with A.-C. Taylor and published by L’Homme in 1993, Claude Lévi-Strauss. Un parcours dans le siècle, published by Odile Jacob and the Collège de France in 2012, presents a collection of lectures given in honor of the great anthropologist’s centenary anniversary, Nature and Society, published by Routledge in 1996 brings together contributions by anthropologists currently investigating and attempting to transcend the traditional dualism between nature and society, Par-delà nature et culture (2005). In addition, he has published conference proceedings, popularization work, and over 120 scientific articles and chapters of books. An ongoing concern with education encouraged Philippe Descola to contribute to the monumental Dictionnaire de l’ethnologie et de l’anthropologie, published by PUF in 1991, a tool that has since become a standard reference text and been translated into Spanish, Italian, Rumanian, and Arabic. Philippe Descola received the CNRS Gold Medal in 2012; the Édouard Bonnefous award from the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques in 2011 and the CNRS Silver Medal in 1996. He is an Officer in the French Legion of Honor (2010) and the French National Order of Merit (2004), and a Knight of the French Order of Academic Palms (1997). He is a foreign member of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Audio Research Program
College de France, Paris