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Accueil > Colloques, journées d’étude, conférences > “Gaits, Dis-continuities, Scans. Forms of life in a situation of chronic illness/disability”

“Gaits, Dis-continuities, Scans. Forms of life in a situation of chronic illness/disability”

International conference

June 3 2022

Université Paris Cité, Room 115, IHSS, Building Olympe de Gouges
8 rue Albert Einstein 75013 Paris

Download : Program, Poster

The conference is in English & will take place face-to-face. You can already register at the following address : A. Camus

With the support of :
Project Epiphinore n°ANR-20-CE36-0007-01 (PI ANR project : Marie Gaille) & Faculté Sociétés et Humanités, Université Paris Cité

Agathe Camus (SPHERE UMR 7219, Université Paris Cité), Marie Gaille (CNRS, Dir INSHS), Estelle Ferrarese (Pr Université de Picardie Jules Vernes)


  • Agathe CAMUS, post-doc, philosophie, SPHere UMR 7219, Université Paris Cité
  • Estelle FERRARESE, Pr Philosophie, CURAPP-ESS UMR 7319, Université Picardie Jules Vernes
  • Todd MEYERS, Associate Prof., Marjorie Bronfman Chair in Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University, Pr invited by the Institut La Personne en médecine

Moderation : Marie GAILLE

PRESENTATION / to the program

The place of chronic illness in daily life and the way in which it seems to be intertwined with one’s existence, in its biological, social and existential dimensions, have led us to speak of "vécu chronique" (1) and before us, Ayo Walhberg, to coin the idea of "chronic living" (2), in an attempt to grasp the specific nature of the life and experience of people suffering from one or more non-curable long-term illnesses.

In the wake of the work of Georges Canguilhem, in particular, and of the conception of illness as "another pace of life", these proposals, based on conceptual analyses and joining the analysis of certain ethnographic materials, highlight the intertwining of biological, social and existential dimensions in life with chronic illness, showing, for example, how "somatic disturbances spill over [...] into the social world and vice versa". As Ayo Walhberg and Lenore Manderson write, "everyday activities of parenting, making food, eating, celebrating, socializing, bathing, exercising, working, and more are shaped into new ’kinds of living’ by the specificities and exigencies of the medical condition(s) at stake, treatment(s), and related requirements of care and support" (3).

This issue is at the heart of the ANR Epiphinore project, which aims at generating new knowledge for the design of care and care pathways. In this project, our point of departure is the desire for a “normal life”, a "life as it was before", an "ordinary" life, as expressed by many people currently living in medical institutions or at home, under medicalized conditions due to a chronic and/or degenerative disease. Our guiding question is : how is this desire or aspiration to be understood ? What is its content ?

In order to contribute to the elaboration of an answer both on a conceptual and anthropological level, it seemed necessary to us to turn to the contribution of the reflection in terms of life forms. Thus, this workshop will aim at assessing the scope of these philosophical orientations, and examine up to which extent they are consistent or open up different conceptual and normative frames to understand of chronic condition and the aspiration to a “normal life”, a “life as before”, an “ordinary life”.
Indeed, these attempts to think of something like a ’chronic living’ meet, on certain points, the questions and concepts stemming from the relatively recent work on the forms of life (4). The emphasis placed in this research on the articulation of the social and the biological ; the interest in what is done, practiced and implemented collectively and individually, for example, in the event of disasters that profoundly disrupt the lifestyles of the populations affected ; the attention paid, in this context, to the forms that are invented or transformed and to the way in which "individuals who have become vulnerable use their bodies, become involved, work on their environment, and establish a new relationship with society" (5) probably give birth to a fruitful framework for thinking about situations of living in a chronically pathological state.

We propose to approach these questions with a special focus on the temporalities that cross, shape and transform certain "forms of life", and the processes of dislocation, adjustment and reconfiguration that bring these often complex and intertwined temporalities into play. In the case of certain chronic illnesses, several temporalities are at stake : that of the body, its transformations and sufferings ; that of the illness and its often erratic evolution ; that of care and medical treatment, but also that of social life, which is sometimes woven around the demands of the illness, as well as being able to put them on hold.
What form(s) of life are these complex temporalities likely to accommodate ?

Among others, here are few questions that could be addressed :
– Without reducing the great diversity of pathological experiences to a single category designated by the term ’chronic illness’, and taking care, on the contrary, to allow for the multiplicity and singularity of experiences - which the notion of ’form of life’ allows - we will thus be able to ask ourselves whether there is anything like a common structure of experience in the experience of chronic illness and what role temporality plays in it.
– Can reflection on life forms be enriched by the consideration of such an experience and find in the attempt to apprehend something like a ’chronic experience’ and in this attention to the intricacy of temporalities something other than a source of examples ?

References :

  • (1) Agathe Camus, Marie Gaille, Mathilde Lancelot, éditorial, dossier « Maladies chroniques et situations de handicap : expériences vécues et formes d’accompagnement tout au long de la vie », Alter, Revue européenne d’études sur le handicap, à paraître (2022)
  • (2) Lenore Manderson, Ayo Walhberg, « Chronic Living in a Communicable World », Medical Anthropology, Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, vol. 39, 2020
  • (3) Lenore Manderson, Ayo Walhberg, « Chronic Living in a Communicable World », Medical Anthropology, Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, vol. 39, 2020, p. 429
  • (4) Estelle Ferrarese et Sandra Laugier (dir.), Formes de vie, Paris, CNRS Editions, 2018
  • (5) Anne Gonon, « L’espace de la catastrophe. Naissance de sujets et nouvelles formes de vie », dans Estelle Ferrarese et Sandra Laugier (dir.), Formes de vie, Paris, CNRS Editions, 2018, p. 326

PROGRAM / to presentation

  • 9:30am - 10:30am
    Marielle MACÉ (Directrice de recherche, CRAL, UMR 8556, CNRS/EHESS)
    Chronic breathing — on respiratory disease and forms of life
  • 10:30am - 11:30am
    Todd MEYERS (Associate Prof., Marjorie Bronfman Chair in Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University, professeur invité par l’Institut La Personne en médecine)
    An Anthropologist reads Canguilhem reading Goldstein in the Clinic
  • 11:30am - 12:30am Agathe CAMUS (Post-doctoral fellow, Sphere UMR 7219, Université Paris Cité)
    Chronic living & ordinary life

  • Lunchbreak

  • 2:30pm - 3:30pm
    Ayo WAHLBERG (Pr Anthropology, University of Copenhagen)
    The birth of “energy limiting conditions” : managing everyday lives with invisible disability in Denmark
  • 3:30pm - 4:30pm
    Estelle FERRARESE (Pr Philosophy, CURAPP-ESS, UMR 7319, Université Picardie Jules Verne)
    Rhythm of life, rhythm of capitalism. Disabilities and ruptures in the capitalist form of life


Université Paris Cité, Room 115, 1st floor, Building Olympe de Gouges
8 place Paul Ricœur, 75013 Paris
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Metro : lines 14 and RER C, stop : Bibliothèque François Mitterrand or line 6, stop : Quai de la gare. Bus : 62 and 89 (stop : Bibliothèque rue Mann), 325 (stop : Watt), 64 (stop : Tolbiac-Bibliothèque François Mitterrand)
Calculate your itinerary with the public transport website RATP

n° ANR-20-CE36-0007-01