The Centre Nobert Elias brings together researchers from different disciplines, all of whom are convinced that the humanities and social sciences form a whole. The laboratory is located on the EHESS Marseille campus at the Vieille Charité and on the Hannah Arendt campus at Avignon University. It brings together 40 researchers, more than 80 PhD students and a 10-person-strong support team working on the analysis and description of social worlds.
Hailing from different intellectual trajectories, the researchers’ interests span multiple sociological and historical theories and references. They share a conception of the social sciences in which inquiry, both in the archives and the field, is an essential characteristic. Intertwined with this is a unwavering attention to forms of description.
Over the next four years (2019-2022), research will focus on the following themes: 1) places of politics, 2) kinship and family, 3) ecologies and care, and 4) forms and processes of culture. These themes are directly linked to the researchers’ activities.
This collective scientific project ascribes particular importance to comparison across both time and space. The spatial (Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania) and temporal (early modern and modern) diversity of terrains enables a reinvigorated questioning of the circulation of goods, ideas and people.
A gender approach
Enriched by many years of study and discussion, the gender approach is also a perspective that runs through different research projects conducted at the Centre Nobert Elias, whether in the analysis of family configurations and the social dimensions of maternity, mechanisms of access to care, or relations to work and changes therein. This perspective informs the Centre’s membership of the GIS Institut du genre.
The researcher in the city
One of the distinctive characteristics of the Centre Norbert Elias lies in the fields of analysis it covers, which embrace a broad spectrum of today’s major social issues: the impacts of globalization; health and environmental issues; poverty, precariousness and inequalities; and forms of nutrition, among others. Beyond the scientific advances to which they contribute, the researchers at the Centre Norbert Elias, interacting with public authorities, civil society and the media, are committed to sharing their knowledge to contribute to a better understanding of social complexity.
The researchers’ approach is both reactive, responding to invitations, and proactive, by reaching out to the public – especially through more accessible forms of writing, including films or illustrated formats. As such, the Centre Norbert Elias is intimately involved in several museum and publishing projects (Techniques & Culture, Culture et musées, Enquête). This desire to disseminate its research widely is also manifested in the fact that the Centre runs a research federation, Agorantic, and a creative lab, the Fabrique des écritures.