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April 19 @ 2:40 pm

In his latest book, Les Formes du Visible, Philippe Descola proposes an approach to figurative forms as ‘iconic agents, simultaneously figurative and predisposed to action, revealing the invisible layers they actualise, at the same time invested with the causal autonomy of all those, human and non-human, who helped establish them’ (2021:84). Images, or modes of figuration as he defines them, are seen as manifesting different regimes of knowledge and practice. They are ontological indicators, lending themselves to cross-cultural analysis.

Descola’s panoramic study of different socio-cultural forms of visual expression offers an approach to explore the manifold and transforming links between figurative forms and the regimes of truth and experience within which they are generated. Crucially, the method he proposes is not only applicable to non-Western visual cultures or to the history of art, but also to the study of imaging practices in the modern sciences and humanities. This opens a whole new range of options for all those who are grappling with contemporary questions of representation and the visualisation of knowledge.

In this workshop PGRs and colleagues from different departments in the university will engage with aspects of Descola’s work from the perspective of their own research. Presentations will engage with issues ranging from visual representations of conflicts, photographic ecologies, memory and images, material transformations, aesthetics and mathematics, and medical images. There will be space for questions after each presentation as well as for a general discussion at the end.

Capacity is limited and registration to attend is required. Please register here.

If you have any question please email Paolo Fortis (paolo.fortis@durham.ac.uk) and Istvan Praet (istvan.praet@durham.ac.uk).

About Philippe Descola
Philippe Descola is Honorary Professor at the Collège de France where he held the Chair of the Anthropology of Nature between 2000 and 2019. See here for his biography and publications.

Relevant interviews and publications in English:


June 9, 2023
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Institute of Advanced Study, Cosin’s Hall, Seminar Room
Palace Green
Durham, County Durham DH1 3RL United Kingdom
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+44 191 334 2589
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