Robert Desjarlais is an American anthropologist and writer. He has taught anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College since 1994. He received his PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1990, and was a NIMH post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University from 1990 to 1992. Robert Desjarlais has conducted anthropological research in several distinct settings, ranging from the Nepal Himalayas to Queens, New York, and from chess clubs in Manhattan to a shelter for the homeless in downtown Boston. He has conducted extensive and collaborative research in Nepal among Hyolmo people, an ethnically Tibetan Buddhist people, beginning in the late 1980s. His current research efforts attend to questions of image, violence, and the politics of life and death in France and North Africa.
Images and photography; Paris, France, and Algeria; colonial and state violence; anthropology and history; critical phenomenological.
Wounded: Life death and violence in (post)colonial France and Algeria
This research project attends to the politically charged circumstances of life, death, wounding, and mourning in situations of state violence against Algerians in France in the late 1950s and early 1960s, during the Algerian war of independence.
The consequences of the police and military violence enacted upon both Algerian women and men in France and Algeria will be studied through the prism of physical injuries, memory, the living body and the corpse, acts of burial and exhumation, as well as through the prism of literary representations of this violence.
With the help of archival materials, and personal fieldwork in France and Algeria, in-depth research on very special cases of lives and deaths will enable to advance a nuanced understanding of the haunting aftermaths of state terror, violence and processes of mourning and memory construction. The research promises to make significant contributions to: 1) the anthropology of images; 2) the anthropology of life and death; 3) studies of state violence in colonial and postcolonial settings; and 4) reflections on the interrelations between history and anthropology, and literature and anthropology.