How do humans around the world live together and with their environment? What can we learn from these practices and experiences in order to better inhabit our planet, today and tomorrow? These are the questions that have guided me for more than 25 years in my geographical, cultural and human explorations.



My first and most important discovery was that of the social energy that can be produced by human groups through the organizing of collective events. I first realized it during a couple of days of music and dance in a small village in Zambia in 1992 : this decisive observation - how to generate an inclusive effervescence thanks to the contributions of all - has been at the heart of my 10 years of socio-cultural initiatives with the inhabitants of Saint-Denis.



My ethnomusicological stays in various indigenous communities have led me to become interested in the link between man and ecosystems, from tibetan nomads singing their work in the fields to tribal women in Mindanao turning their forest soundscape into music. 

I then studied in detail the agrarian ecosystem of the Malagasy Highlands and the social values that accompany it, notably in my documentary film Paysanne and my thesis at the EHESS.

Today I observe the evolution of urban agriculture through allotment gardens in Seine-Saint-Denis (France).



Having lived in places as different as the Philippines, the Sahara, the Himalayas or the Upper Zambezi, and having carried out artistic projects with the inhabitants, I have been able to measure the variety of cultural differences produced by humanity, whether conscious or not, striking or subtle. 

Paradoxically, from this diversity emerges the unity of humankind and its universals, thanks to which we can act together as soon as we engage in common projects. 

The memorable residency in France of the tribal musicians of Lemhadong collective (Philippines), which I had the pleasure to organize, was an emblematic demonstration of this.



Fluvial royalty in Zambia, theocracy in the Himalayas, intervillage horizontality in Madagascar, pathogenic racial constructions in Rwanda, public service in search of social links in Seine-Saint-Denis: the various societies I approached from the inside allowed me to observe the issues of organization and flexibility, antagonism and solidarity, power and autonomy, which underlie the complex relationships between community and collectivity. 

Whether it is a matter of making a team cooperate effectively or building a fulfilling society for all, the diversity of collective experiences around the world and in history provides us with a valuable repertoire of enlightening ideas.



The industrial revolution has propelled the global expansion of a new civilizational model that exacerbates urban concentration and mass production. 

The growth of this model weakens the ability to make society locally while endangering the global ecosystem. Territorial reappropriation and democratic conviviality is a globally growing concern, while the State is more than ever expected to safeguard the general interest. 

I have been observing social models likely to suggest relevant avenues, such as that of the Betsileo peasantry in Madagascar, to which I devoted my dissertation La mondialisation à l'épreuve du terroir (EHESS).



At the root of this questioning is the human aspiration for freedom and equality. The detour through primatology allows us to discern its origins and then to identify in concrete social organizations the inexhaustible antagonism between freedom and authority, between egalitarianism and hierarchy. 

Tribal societies and family systems, royalty and religion, bureaucracy and capitalism: the major forms of social structuring are driven by these basic contradictions, which are also at stake in the diversity of gender relations and can be identified in the competing political ideologies of modern times.



I explore some of these themes in the academic context, within the EHESS (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) and the CEMS (Centre d'Étude des Mondes Sociaux).

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