August readings

La Vie des ides is on vacation. We will be back at the end of August. In the meantime, here is a selection of essays, interviews and reviews from recent months.


Benot Duchemin, Biomass: miracle cure for the climate?

Biomass is often presented as a possible or even miracle solution to control global warming. But the astonishing capacities of plants remain limited, particularly in relation to the enormity of current consumption and emissions.

Claire Aubron, Thinking about livestock farming in the Anthropocene

At XXe century, the mechanization of agriculture has led to the decoupling of cultivation and livestock farming, in order to maximize yields. It is urgent to invent ways to reconcile them.

Charles Stpanoff, Pre Christmas and Black Friday. The return of winter fury

70 years ago, Father Christmas conquered France, an image for Lévi-Strauss of benevolent generosity and an improvement in our relationship with death. Since then, new rituals have brought back an unbridled winter violence. As if we were mourning a society of abundance.

Clia Bouchet, Disability and its discrimination

In 2020, for the fourth consecutive year, disability is the reason for discrimination for which the Defender of Rights is most often contacted, with more than 20% files. Figure which reflects the extent of unfavorable treatment towards disabled people in France.

Pauline Charousset & Julien Grenet, Henri-IVLouis-le-Grand and meritocracy

Will they fall into line?? The announced modification of the recruitment procedure for the two prestigious high schools in the capital is accused by its opponents of break excellence and playing into the hands of the private sector. The analysis of data from the Paris Academy goes against these arguments.

The reviews

Grgory Delaplace, What it means to figure. About: Philippe Descola, The forms of the visibleThreshold

Images are only representations of our relationship to the world and our ways of making the world. P. Descola shows this in a monumental study, which recognizes the diversity of cultures, periods and works of art.

Alexia Renard, minor wildlife officer. About: Valrie Chansigaud, History of animal domesticationDelachaux and Niestl

Historian Valrie Chansigaud traces 10,000 years of history of animal domestication. From the wolf to the hamster, from the pig to the peacock, the reduction of wild fauna to the domestic occurs according to human, material or symbolic needs. No species, not even humans, emerges unscathed.

Ulysse Lojkine, Grammar of modernity. About: Catherine Colliot-Thlne, The common of freedom. From the right to property to the duty of hospitalityPhew

The last work of Catherine Colliot-Thlne, who recently passed away, crowns a major work of political philosophy, which to understand the contemporary world was nourished by a meticulous and luminous rereading of the classics.

Philippe Eriksonn, The nature of the Amrindians. About: Stphen Rostain, The virgin forest of Amazonia does not existThe Apple tree

There are a lot of mistakes about the Amazon. We see a first and wild forest, although it is the subject of reasoned management by the Amerindians of their environment. Biodiversity is also the product of our efforts.

Matthieu Calame, The countryside the city. About: Flaminia Paddeu, Under the paving stones, the earth. Urban agriculture and resistance in metropolisesThreshold

The renaturation of cities offers several advantages in terms of health, urban planning and economics. But urban vegetable gardens can also become the Trojan horse of gentrification. Is their culture really a counterculture??

Pauline Guna, The agriculture we deserve. About: Matthieu Calame, Rooting agriculture: society and agricultural systems from the Neolithic to the AnthropocenePhew

While criticism accumulates around agribusiness, Matthieu Calame affirms that no real agricultural transition can take place until the political and cultural frameworks also change.


The contours of the law. Interview with Dario Mantovaniby Ariel Suhamy & Cline Surprenant

The codification of Roman law by Justinian in VIe century, whose influence extends to the present day, has erased the importance of controversies between jurists, relating to all aspects of life in common. Dario Mantovani brings them to life using ancient manuscripts.

The right to hurt. Interview with Elisabeth Lusset & Isabelle Poutrinby Ivan Jablonka

Historians of religion, Lisabeth Lusset and Isabelle Poutrin publish a Dictionary of whip and butt. Notices such as Armed, Paternal correction, Slaps in TV series show that fencing and its variations are complementary to state violence.

The lessons of history do not exist. Interview with Sarah Gensburgerby Jules Naudet & Pauline Peretz

Memory is not just a cognitive, linguistic and social phenomenon. It is also a category of public action which is the subject of lively political controversies. It is therefore imperative to ask ourselves what and who the different commemorations of the past serve.