Summer harvests

La Vie des idées 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.


François Héran, letter to history and geography teachers

How to teach freedom of expression? By its history, proposes François Héran, less republican than we believe and more respectful of beliefs. Instead of making it an absolute, it is time to observe that its conditions of exercise unfold in a specific time and space.

Bertrand Valiorgue, The agricultural challenge of the Anthropocene

What will the agriculture of tomorrow be? Will there still be room for agriculture? What is certain is that the time has come for a complete overhaul of a model that is now obsolete. This essay considers possible scenarios.

Cécile Boëx, Images of the revolt. Abuses and media war in Syria

From the start of the Syrian conflict, opponents of Bashar al Assad’s regime have multiplied videos showing the regime’s abuses. He then tried to discredit the images of the violent repression he was carrying out.

Vincent Tiberj, Parcoursup or selection by algorithms

Algorithms can help to reopen the chances of high school students from working-class backgrounds to access selective higher education courses and to counter the growing social inequalities in education. As long as you educate them.


Florent Guénard, France and the Rwandan genocide. Interview with Rafaëlle Maison

The report drawn up by the Duclert commission is very severe with regard to the French government and its responsibility in the genocide of the Tutsi. But if it lifts the veil on France’s involvement, it does not answer all the questions that we can legitimately ask today.

Catherine Guesde, Who Owns the Night? Interview with Will Straw

The way in which nightlife has been affected by health restrictions invites us to return to the forms and value of the night that we knew before. Pioneer in the emerging field of night studiesWill Straw sheds light on the history of the night and the implications of its disappearance.

Ivan Jablonka, In the Wake of Magellan. Interview with Romain Bertrand

Fernand Magellan’s “around the world” in 1519-1522 conceals an entire fascinating and little-known universe: crews, kings, peoples, plants, peaceful or bloody encounters, hopes and fears. But, in fact, did Magellan really travel around the world?


Émilie Frenkiel, When citizens write the law. The citizens’ convention for the climate

Are citizens capable of participating in the development of public policies as complex as the ecological transition, and by what processes? Understand the details of the design of the citizens’ climate convention and listen to citizensborns shotes lot allows us to provide some answers to these questions.

Catherine Guesde, Man is silent, nature speaks. Interview with Jérôme Sueur

With confinement, many natural sounds are becoming audible again, particularly in urban environments. Listening to these sounds, as eco-acousticians do, allows sensitive access to valuable ecological data. Portrait of a growing discipline.

The reviews

Clément Petitjean, Drill, gangs and social networks

About: Forrest Stuart, Ballad of the Bullet: Gangs, Drill Music, and the Power of Online InfamyPrinceton University Press.

The city of Al Capone is back on track in crime, and puts it to music. This is “drill”, a form of rap that claims to document street life and violent crime.

Johanna Lenne-Cornuez, The strength of feminisms

About: B. Pavard, F. Rochefort and M. Zancarini-Fournel, Don’t free us, we’ll take care of it. A history of feminisms from 1789 to the present dayDiscovery

This collective work, which studies feminisms through the prism of intersectionality and gender, recalls the dynamism of struggles from the Revolution to current debates, for example around single-sex and means of action.

Géraldine Sfez, Such beautiful debris

About: Alain Schnapp, A universal history of ruins. From origins to EnlightenmentThreshold.

In his monumental history of ruins, Alain Schnapp takes into account the multiple forms of resistance to forgetting, material or immaterial. Ruins designate less objects than processes put in place by societies to think about their place in history.

Étienne Faugier, Driving is flourishing

About: Matthew B. Crawford, Take the road. A driving philosophyDiscovery.

What if driving offered self-enlargement? Crawford, philosopher and mechanic, demonstrates that our ability to move in a car calls upon various resources of our intelligence. In this sense, driving a car allows for “cognitive extension”.