To survive at all cost?
Interview with Jean-Michel Chaumont — Professeur — Université catholique de Louvain (Fonds national de la recherche scientifique belge)
Richard Rechtman — Directeur d'études — EHESS (IRIS)
What do the tortured, the survivors of the concentration camps and the raped women have in common? It took all the audacity, the humility and the concern of the conscientious research of Jean-Michel Chaumont to ask the question, and eventually, to try to answer it. All at once philosopher, sociologist and historian, he gives here the essential of his reflections on the “suspicious survivors”. Did they betray theirs and the cause for which, together, they were fighting? Did they fought back hard enough? Should they have done otherwise than they did? Can we – should we judge them? In the name of what ? Are they forgivable? Blending archives of the Belgian Communist Party, testimonies and literary works, Jean-Michel Chaumont proposes a reflection on the social judgments of morality. As a moral comparison of honor and the ethic of survival, it helps us as surely to think the past as to consider the future, let alone if it should turn out to be dark.
One life, one research itinerary.
Interview published on 04-24-2018
Last modified on 04-24-2018
Original language: English Lire la version French
  • Biography
  • Bibliography of Jean-Michel Chaumont

Enrolled for a first year of university in psychology, Jean-Michel Chaumont got passionate about philosophy. He reoriented himself quickly and obtained, in 1989, a PhD degree in philosophy on historical responsibility at the Catholic University of Louvain. Questioning “what we owe to the past”, his work owes a lot to the death of his parents, which occurred in 1987. Doctor in Philosophy, working at the Foundation Auschwitz, he then joins in the debates on the epistemology of history and wonders about the memorial and historical singularity of the Holocaust. This new research gives rise to a second PhD thesis, in sociology this time, at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS). Researcher at the National Fund for Scientific Research and professor at the Catholic University of Louvain since 1995, he got interested in the genealogy of speeches and public policies relating to the white slaves and human beings, before dedicating, these In recent years, most of his work towards the understanding of the “blame-the-victim syndrome” and towards the construction of a sociology of moral evidence.

Survivre à tout prix? Essai sur l'honneur, la résistance et le salut de nos âmes, Paris, La Découverte, 2017.

(avec Luc Van Campenhoudt, Abraham Franssen), La Méthode d'analyse en groupe. Applications aux phénomènes sociaux, Paris, Dunod, 2005.

Le Mythe de la traite des Blanches: enquête sur la fabrication d’un fléau, Paris, La Découverte, 2009.

(avec Jean Daney), Action publique et prostitution, Rennes, PUR, 2006.

La Concurrence des victimes: génocide, identité, reconnaissance, Paris, La Découverte, 1997.

“Connaissance ou reconnaissance? Les enjeux du débat sur la singularité de la Shoah”, Le Débat, vol. 5, n° 82, 1994, p. 69-89.

Autour d'Auschwitz, Bruxelles, Presses de l'Académie royale de Belgique, 1991.

(avec Fernand Deligny), Traces d'I. Autisme, sciences humaines et philosophie, Cabay, 1982.