Ivan Jablonka

April 2017
USA
Ivan Jablonka © Emmanuel

Ivan Jablonka is a French historian and former student of Alain Corbin and Jean-Noël Luc. In 2004, he defended his doctoral thesis on wards of the state Under the Third Republic. Now a Professor of contemporary history at the Université Paris-XIII-Nord and novelist, he is one of the editors-in-chief of La Vie des idées/Books and Ideas and editorial director with Pierre Rosanvallon of the collection La République des Idées for the French publisher Le Seuil. His latest book, Laëtitia ou La fin des hommes (Seuil, 2016), was selected for the Renaudot and Goncourt Prizes. It received the 2016 Prix Médicis, the Prix Le Monde as well as the Prix des prix littéraires. His essay, L'Histoire est une littérature contemporaine published in France by Le Seuil in 2014, will be published by Cornell University Press in the fall of 2017.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A History of the Grandparents I Never Had  (Seuil, 2012)

Ivan Jablonka's grandparents' lives ended long before his began: although Matès and Idesa Jablonka were his family, they were perfect strangers. When he set out to uncover their story, Jablonka had little to work with. Neither of them was the least bit famous, and they left little behind except their two orphaned children, a handful of letters, and a passport. Persecuted as communists in Poland, as refugees in France, and then as Jews under the Vichy regime, Matès and Idesa lived their short lives underground. They were overcome by the tragedies of the twentieth century: Stalinism, the mounting dangers in Europe during the 1930s, the Second World War, and the destruction of European Jews. 

Jablonka's challenge was, as a historian, to rigorously distance himself and yet, as family, to invest himself completely in their story. Imagined oppositions collapsed—between scholarly research and personal commitment, between established facts and the passion of the one recording them, between history and the art of storytelling. To write this book, Jablonka traveled to three continents; met the handful of survivors of his grandparents' era, their descendants, and some of his far-flung cousins; and investigated twenty different archives. And in the process, he reflected on his own family and his responsibilities to his father, the orphaned son, and to his own children and the family wounds they all inherited. 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Laëticia (Seuil, 2016)

Dans la nuit du 18 au 19 janvier 2011, Laëtitia Perrais a été enlevée à 50 mètres de chez elle, avant d’être poignardée et étranglée. Il a fallu des semaines pour retrouver son corps. Elle avait 18 ans.

Ce fait divers s’est transformé en affaire d’État.  Ivan Jablonka a rencontré les proches de la jeune fille et les acteurs de l’enquête, avant d’assister au procès du meurtrier en 2015. Il a étudié le fait divers comme un objet d’histoire, et la vie de Laëtitia comme un fait social. Car, dès sa plus jeune enfance, Laëtitia a été maltraitée, accoutumée à vivre dans la peur, et ce parcours de violences éclaire à la fois sa fin tragique et notre société tout entière.

ABOUT THE BOOK

L'Histoire est une littérature contemporaine: Manifeste pour les sciences sociales (Seuil, 2014)

L’histoire n’est pas fiction, la sociologie n’est pas roman, l’anthropologie n’est pas exotisme, et toutes trois obéissent à des exigences de méthode. À l’intérieur de ce cadre, rien n’empêche le chercheur d’écrire. Concilier sciences sociales et création littéraire, c’est tenter d’écrire de manière plus libre, plus originale, plus juste, plus réflexive, non pour relâcher la scientificité de la recherche, mais au contraire pour la renforcer. L’histoire est d’autant plus scientifique qu’elle est littéraire.

Réciproquement, la littérature est compatible avec la démarche des sciences sociales. Les écrits du réel – enquête, reportage, journal, récit de vie, témoignage – concourent à l’intelligibilité du monde. Ils forment une littérature qui, au moyen d’un raisonnement, vise à comprendre le passé ou le présent.

Des sciences sociales qui émeuvent et captivent ? Une littérature qui produit de la connaissance ? Il y a là des perspectives nouvelles pour le siècle qui s’ouvre.

Proposed lectures (in French or English)

1-Social Sciences and Literary Creation 

2-Life and death of Leaticia Perrais and the question of violence at the hands of men. 

Tour Program

Note that we have limited funding available for Ivan Jablonka's tour. If your institution is not based in the New York area, please let us know if you would be able to arrange for travel to/from the event.

April 17-20: Texas AM University



TO BOOK AN EVENT WITH THE AUTHOR

Note that we have limited funding available for Mr. Jablonka's tour. Please let us know if you would be able to arrange for travel to/from the event.

If you would like to invite this author to speak at your university or bookstore, please fill out the application form and email it to Anne-Sophie Hermil.