Laboratoire GEODE

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Evan A. Fisher

Post-doc in Sociology and Science and Technology Studies

  • Email: evan.fisher[at]
  • Website:
  • Adresse : Maison de la Recherche de l'Université Jean Jaurès
    5, Allées A. Machado - 31058 TOULOUSE Cedex 9


Themes: anthropology and history of field sciences, public health and climate emergencies, care ethics, anthropology of the global

Current research project: BENDYS, or The last European old-growth (“subnatural”) fir-BEech forests: a loNg-term and global stuDY for their better understanding, conServation and management

Link to project website:


My PhD dissertation, which I defended in June 2020 at PSL Research University-Mines ParisTech, is an ethnographic monograph of the French NGO Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF). It provides an account of how these humanitarian practitioners manage to tinker together the sometimes-incompatible goals of a seemingly simple mission: medical assistance to the vulnerable wherever they are. To this end, I asked how MSF selects those it aims to assist around the world. My response entailed the close description of the instrumentation of triage: the problematic processes of developing and using tools that support the reflexive choice of beneficiaries around the globe. This led me to develop the concept of humanitarian presence, meant to address the interrelated set of problems posed by MSF’s global physical extension, its modes of relating to beneficiaries through an ethics of attention, and its political interventions into governing bodies and the bodies of the governed.
From October 2020 to March 2021, I participated as a post-doctoral researcher in setting up the Institut Covid-19 Ad Memoriam research centre under the auspices of the World Health Organization and the Development Research Institute (IRD). Working under the guidance of Laëtitia Atlani-Duault, anthropologist and member of the French government’s Covid-19 Scientific Council, I developed and tested a research protocol to be used by social scientists to collect and archive the institutional memory of the Covid-19 pandemic in France. I also participated in developing an online platform for collecting and archiving the memories that ordinary French citizens from across the country kept of the pandemic.
In April 2021, I began a post-doc in the GEODE laboratory at the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, working on the BENDYS research project on the last European Old-Growth Forests in the Pyrenees and the Carpathian Mountains. With Ruppert Vimal as my advisor, I have two main tasks. First, I am conducting a literature review in work in the environmental and life sciences on European Old-Growth Forests (OGF), with an eye to the historical narratives and the historical regimes that the diverse disciplines working on OGFs put forward. Second, I am conducting an ethnographic survey with a team of environmental and life scientists (biogeochemistry, ecology, biology, geology), social scientists (sociology, anthropology, geography, history, archaeology, STS), as well as forest managers in France and Romania, on the links between the production of scientific expertise and forest management policy and practice.