En Fr



  • Centre d'Etudes Himalayennes
    UPR 299 - CNRS
  • Campus Condorcet
  • 2, cours des Humanités
  • 93322 Aubervilliers Cedex
  • France
  • Tel : 01 88 12 11 03
  • himalaya[at]
  • How to get here
  • Intranet

Home > Staff members > Associate members and guest researchers


PhD in social anthropology, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense

Contact : provost.fabien [at]

Website :

Supervisors : Anne de Sales (LESC) and Daniela Berti (CEH)

Doctoral school : Paris 10 - Milieux, cultures et sociétés du passé et du présent

Year of enrolment : 2012
Ethnography of forensic science practices in India

While many studies address the role of forensic expertise in judicial deliberations, few studies focus on the way medicine and law are interlinked in experts’ daily lives. Yet testifying in court is only one aspect of forensic doctors’ activities. To understand how these experts make use of the interface between medicine and law therefore means moving away from the courtroom to focus on the daily practice of expertise in hospitals. From this perspective, this thesis is based on a one-year ethnographic survey I conducted in three hospital mortuaries in North India, as well as on work that relied on court records. The case studies used are based on an analysis of interactions between doctors and police officers or family members, of the time required to examine corpses and of the strategies used when writing forensic reports. While placing Indian forensic medicine in its historical, sociological and institutional context, this work – at the intersection between medical anthropology and legal anthropology – aims to establish how forensic doctors understand forensic cases, and how they write their reports and act upon facts. A forensic diagnosis and its written formulation appear to be developed through a hybrid process which, when analysed help to grasp the epistemological, political and social issues of forensic practice.
Participation in research life

Since 2016 | Active role in the Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale (LAS) team ‘Anthropology of Life and Representations of Life’, headed by Perig Pitrou.

October 2015 - October 2017 | Secretary of the Association of Young Indian Studies (AJEI Association jeunes études indiennes).

September 2014 | co-organiser of the Laboratoire d’ethnologie et de sociologie comparative (LESC) Student Doctoral Days in Nanterre.

2014, June | Doctoral meeting on the anthropology of law, at Collège de France, Paris (co-organised with Mickaëlle Lantin and Clotilde Riotor).

Since April 2014 | Participation in the activities of the interdisciplinary CNRS-PSL venture ‘Domestication et Fabrication du Vivant’, headed by Perig Pitrou (CNRS) and Ludovic Jullien (ENS Chimie).

2019 | With Clémence Jullien and Bertrand Lefebvre (eds). L’hôpital en Asie du Sud. Politiques de santé, pratiques de soin. Éditions de l’EHESS, Collection Purushartha, No.36.
2019 | « “Retenir son stylo” » pour l’équité. Le contournement des règles chez les médecins légistes en Inde ». Purushartha, No.36 : 81-103.
2019 | With Clémence Jullien and Bertrand Lefebvre. « Introduction ». Purushartha, No.36 : 11-28.
2018 | « Écrire « la cause sans la manière » de la mort ? Un regard anthropologique sur la rédaction des rapports d’expertise médico-légale en Inde ». Sciences sociales et santé, vol. 36, No.4 : 15-39.
2017 | « Bodily signs and case history in Indian morgues: what makes a medico-legal autopsy complete? ». Human Remains and Violence, vol. 3, No.2.
2017 | « A faded narrative: reconstruction and restitution in medico-legal expertise in India », in Ben Hounet & Puccio-Den (eds), Truth, Intentionality and Evidence: Anthropological Approaches to Crime, Routledge : 130-146.
2016 | Provost, Fabien. « Un récit effacé. Reconstruction et restitution narratives dans l’expertise médico-légale en Inde ». Cahiers d’Anthropologie Sociale, No.13 : 135-151.
2016 | With Perig Pitrou and Ludovic Coupaye (eds). Des êtres vivants et des artefacts. L’imbrication des processus vitaux et des processus techniques. Actes de colloque :
Papers presented at conferences and workshops

2019 (1-3 March) | « Forensic Medicine in India: Considering Bodies in their Environment », Joint Berkeley-CNRS Workshop ’New Directions in Himalayan Studies’, University of California, Berkeley
2017 (27 June) | Introduction de la table-ronde « Regards croisés entre les migrants et les citoyens du Charolais-Brionnais ».
2017 (22 June) | LESC PhD Student Workshop, invited as a discussant for the session ’Implication ethnographique’.
2016 (25 October) | "’Retenir son stylo pour la justice sociale’. Le sens du contournement des procédures chez les médecins légistes en Inde". Invited speaker, Anthropology Workshoip at Nanterre.
2016 (14 October) | Speaker at the LESC in-house seminar ’Lectures autour de deux ouvrages d’Arnaud Esquerré, Prédire (2013) et Théorie des événements extraterrestres. Essai sur le récit fantastique(2016)’.
2016 (27 May) | ’Morality and the Interpretation of Rules in Forensic Medicine. The Case of India’. International conference ’Life between construction and destruction. Forms, Rules and Norms’.
2016 (26 May) | Invited together with Perig Pitrou to discuss and comment on the book ’Living and Dying in the Contemporary World’ (University of California Press) in presence of Veena Das (John Hopkins University).
2016 (13 May) | Invited together with Daniela Berti to discuss paper presented by Radhika Singha at AJEI, Collège de France.
2015 (29 September) | ’La médecine légale, street level bureaucracy ? Sens de la justice et normes pratiques dans la médecine légale en Inde’. Journée d’étude Des patients, des praticiens et des murs : Penser le bien-être à l’hôpital en Inde et ailleurs, Paris.
2015 (18 and 19 May) | ’Medico-legal objectification as a form of performance: watching bodies, producing facts and judging men in North India’. European PhD workshop in South Asia Studies, Falsterbö (Sweden).
2015 (30 January) | ’The entanglement of medical categories and doctors’ perceptions in the production of a medico-legal opinion’. International conference Truth, Intentionnality and Evidence: An Anthropological Approach to Crime and Tort, Rabat.
2014 (7 December) | ’Compatible with the Alleged History’, 113th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington DC.
2014 (4-5 July) | ’Exploring the comparative dimensions of a noncomparative research project: The case of forensic medicine in North India’. Conference of the Medical Anthropology Young Scholars (MAYS) association, Freie Universität Berlin.
2014 (5-7 June) | ’Implicit collaboration in ethnographic work: a reflexive analysis on various situations of collaboration with medico-legal experts’. Ethnography and Qualitative Research (ERQ) conference, Bergame (Italy).
2014 (13 May) | Invited speaker, ’L’anthropologie par les doctorants’ workshop, MAE, Nanterre.
2014 (20 March) | In-house seminar of the Centre for Human Science, New Delhi (India).
2014 (26 February) | ’Bodies and narratives. An anthropological approach to medico-legal expertise in India’. International conference of the Indian Association of Forensic Experts, Goa.
2014 (13 February) | ’A narrative approach to postmortem medico-legal work in India. Medical and non-medical facts in the construction of an opinion on the cause of death’. Ateliers de l’Association Jeunes Etudes Indiennes (AJEI), Université Jawaharlal Nehru, New Delhi.
2014 (4 February) | ’An anthropological approach to the practice of forensic medicine. A few conclusions after one month of observations at AIIMS’. Invited speaker at the forensic medicine department in-house seminar, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
2013 (5 December) | ’Savoirs médicaux, sociologie spontanée et jugements moraux dans la mise en récit des corps par les médecins légistes. Une étude de cas en Inde du Nord’. Session as part of the Just India programme, CEIAS, Paris.
2013 (4 December) | ’Du récit à la preuve. Une approche ethnographique de la dimension narrative des autopsies judiciaires en Inde’. CEIAS PhD student workshop, Paris.
Organisation of conferences and workshops

2017 (27 June) | Organisation of the roundtable ’Regards croisés entre les migrants et les citoyens du Charolais-Brionnais’, sponsored by the Human Rights League. Centre Culturel et de Congrès de Paray-le-Monial.
2016 (13 May) | Organisation of the conference given by Radhika Singha. ’Habituality in crime. Preventive policing in colonial India 1871-1924’. Amphithéâtre Claude Lévi-Strauss Collège de France,
2016 (26 and 27 May) | International conference ’Life between construction and destruction. Forms, Rules and Norms’. Organised alongside Perig Pitrou (LAS, CNRS). Amphithéâtre Lévi-Strauss, Collège de France
2015 (29 September) | Journée d’étude ’Des patients, des praticiens et des murs : Penser le bien-être à l’hôpital en Inde et ailleurs’. Organised by Clémence Jullien, Bertrand Lefebvre and Fabien Provost, EHESS, Paris.
2015 (1st July) | Organisation (alongside Mickaëlle Lantin and Clotilde Riotor) of the panel ’Droit et Démesure’, international congress of the Association Française de l’Ethnologie et de l’Anthropologie (AFEA) .
2015 (9-12 March) | Organisation (with Adrien Bouzard) of the AJEI four-day annual workshop in co-operation with Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Inde .
2014 (19-20 November) | Co-organiser of the LESC PhD Student Workshop ’(S’)explorer, une disposition anthropologique’, MAE, Nanterre.

View online :