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Emilie Ménard

PhD Student in Sociology, EHESS

Doctoral School: 286 - Savoirs en sociétés

Dissertation title: The exploration of health issues in ecologist circles in France since the 1960s

Under the direction of Jean-Paul Gaudillière and Geneviève Pruvost

The aim of this thesis is to provide an intellectual and social history of health as an important subject of ecological concern and discussion, from the very beginnings of political ecology in France in the 1960s. From a socio-historical perspective, this work attempts to account for the involvements made on the joint fronts of health and ecology in certain ecologist worlds active between the 1960s and 2000. It questions those who, during their biographical careers, experienced forms of collective ecologist commitment (local mobilizations, journalism, publications, associations, parties, etc.) directed towards human health. It also looks at some of the pioneering thinkers who wrote about health, such as André Gorz, Ivan Illich, Pierre Fournier and Alexandre Grothendieck, and at the political ecology magazines of the 70s and 80s (La Gueule Ouverte, Survivre & Vivre, Ecologie, Le Sauvage, Silence etc. ), which reflect the debates specific to this period: between criticism of the industrial - and iatrogenic - development of modern medicine, the influence of the environment (and of food) on human health, the defense of alternative/natural medicines, and so on. So, while the use of alternative medicines is regularly interpreted by the SHS as including a certain number of ecological issues, there is no specific and exhaustive research devoted to the place of this therapeutic choice in ecological commitments. This thesis addresses this research gap by questioning ecologists committed to health on the subject of therapeutic pluralism: scenes of internal debate emerge, revealing deep-seated conflicts (relationship to the body, to life, to science, to expertise, to therapeutic freedom...), which are all the more obstacles to the formulation of a solid and stable ecologist political project. Finally, this thesis focuses on the use of natural health practices, proposing to explore a continuum between this use and ecological commitment through the concept of "medical sobriety", which will be evaluated by an ethnocountable survey of health practices in a number of households.

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