Alain Gras

Alain Gras

Currently Professor Emeritus at the university of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Alain Gras has founded the “Study center for techniques, knowledge and practices” (Centre d’études des techniques, des connaissances et des pratiques – CETCOPRA). He also created the course “techniques, environment and society” now integrated into the sociology option of the philosophy and society masters at this same university. As a socio-anthropologist of technique, he took part in research based in many countries such as Ghana, Brazil, Morocco and Spain often actually moving to live in these countries. He has spent a significant amount of time working on the issues caused by new technologies in the aeronautical sector and more latterly he focused his interest on issues concerning the energy sector. He looks at this question first from a historical perspective: according to Alain Gras, the thermo-industrial society, or in other words a society where the use of fire trumps all other elements, has imposed itself not as a continuation of technical evolution but as a rupture with it. The question of “why” and not “how” that usually dominates the discourse of classical historians is worth asking. Indeed, it is the technology of fire that has made our current trajectory possible: the expansion of a rampant form of capitalism, the creation of a “mega machine” made up of technical macro-systems, our obsession for speed, for delocalization and the all powerful folly of the technological race forward. Here is a non exhaustive list of his publications: “Grandeur et Dépendance : Sociologie des macro-systèmes techniques” (PUF, 1996). “Fragilité de la Puissance: Se Libérer de l’Emprise Technologique” (Fayard, 2004). “Le Choix du Feu : Aux Origines de la Crise Climatique” (Fayard, 2008). “L’Avion : Le Rêve, la Puissance et le Doute” (PU, Sorbonne, 2010).