Loïc Wacquant

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Wacquant is a professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is affiliated with the Center for the Study of Law and Society, the Global Metropolitan Studies Program, the Institute of Governmental Studies, the Center for Race and Gender, the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory and the Center for Ethnographic Research. He is also a research associate at the Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique in Paris.

Born and raised in Southern France, Wacquant was educated in Montpellier, Paris, Chapel Hill and Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. in Sociology in 1994 after earlier graduate studies in industrial economics and a research stint in the South Pacific island of New Caledonia. His interests span comparative urban marginality, ethnoracial domination, embodiment, the penal state, social theory and the politics of reason. (For an introduction to and overview of his work as of 2008, ” The Body, the Ghetto and the Penal State “). For a more recent intellectual genealogy and anatomy, see “Carnal Concepts in Action” (Thesis Eleven, 2023).

A member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, Wacquant is the recipient of an Alphonse Fletcher Jr. Fellowship and of the Lewis A. Coser Award of the Theory Section of the American Sociological Association. He has been a visiting professor in Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, New York City, Vienna, Cambridge and Toulouse and invited as a Fellow to the Russell Sage Foundation, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford.

Wacquant has delivered many named lectures, among them the Oxford Amnesty Lecture, the John Edwards Memorial Lecture at the University of Toronto, the Roth-Symonds Lecture at the Yale School of Architecture, the British Journal of Sociology Lecture, the Lavizzo-Mourey Distinguished Lecture at Boston College, the IBF Lecture at Uppsala University, the Politeia Lecture at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the Michel Foucault Lecture and Cátedra Norbert Lechner in Santiago de Chile, the Hrant Dink Memorial Lecture at Bogacizi University, Istanbul, the William Douglas Distinguished Lecture of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe and plenary addresses to various national sociological societies (Britain, Portugal, France, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Australia).

Wacquant’s scholarly articles have appeared in journals of sociology, anthropology, criminology, social theory, feminist studies, social policy, philosophy, psychology, physical education, literature, architecture and urban and cultural studies and have been translated into 26 languages. 

Wacquant has acted as a consultant on issues of urban poverty, violence, ethnicity and crime to central and local governments, unions and the courts in France, Argentina, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and to the United Nations and the OECD. He was a regular contributor to Le Monde diplomatique from 1996 to 2004.

Wacquant’s ongoing investigations include a dissection of “The Social Life of the County Criminal Court,” based on a three-year ethnography of the workaday world of prosecutors, public defenders, private defense attorneys and judges in three California counties.

Wacquant was co-founder of the interdisciplinary journal Ethnography, which he co-edited from 2000 to 2009. He is also co-founder and co-host, with Ekédi Mpondo-Dika and Ashley Mears, of the ETHNOGRAPHIC CAFE, launched in September 2021, a virtual “place for ethnographers to meet across disciplines, generations, and countries,” which seeks to energize the new generation of field investigators.