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Blumer Stéphane

by Blumer Stéphane - published on

Translation(s) : français Português


Supervisor: Dr.Marc Abélès


Changing the world with Post-its
Ethnographing the innovating community, towards a political anthropology of Social Innovation in Europe.

This thesis investigates the concept of Social Innovation (SI) through a multi-sited ethnographic approach within networked communities formed by freelancers linking management practices and artistic research processes in Europe (England, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland).

Through participant observations in several concrete projects between 2015 and 2020, the research investigates the socio-political and economic patterns emerging from ideologies and value systems within governance and management practices. Through ethnographic descriptions of the roles, rituals and rules constructed in the organisations encountered, the study exposes the imaginaries and relationships that contemporary innovation actors nourish with new technologies (social and digital). A focus is placed on their conceptions of collapses, the ecosystemic, the commons and community, collective consciousness and intelligence, self-management, open source knowledge (re)production, and the original social paradigms that arise from them.

By analysing the elective affinities of social phenomena encountered in the field with artistic processes, offering original theoretical and practical tools, the thesis moves towards the development of a political anthropology of innovation. This approach allows us to understand the logics of collusion between innovation processes and the dominant system of capital production, as well as the new trends in public policy developed by SI actors and institutions in Europe. Innovation is thus seen as a powerful political vector, veiled by a conceptual umbrella containing, in my fields, the notions of creativity (or inventiveness), change, transition, evolution, efficiency and progress. It is therefore timely to expose what is really at stake today within the communities of the European Social Innovation scene that promote (promise) a total change of society and thus align themselves with current normative tensions and evolutionary discourses.

The investigation is part of the current debates around the transformations of capitalism arising from the global awareness of the ecological, social and economic crises of the early 21st century. The main problematic lies in understanding the incorporation of axiology and governance models from counter-culture movements by the market economy within a harnessing of critical artistic strategies, including ideologies of experimentation, collaboration, autonomy, self-management and anti-hierarchical claims.

Fieldwork: innovating communities in Europe (England, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland).

Keywords: social innovation, movements of the commons, artistic processes, decentralised governance, self-management.


Since 2015 PhD in Social Anthropology, EHESS, Paris, FR (current)
2015 Saas-Fee Institute of Art, The European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, CH
2010–2012 MA (HONS) Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
2007–2010 BA (HONS) Fine Art, HEAD, Haute Ecole D’Art et Design, Geneva, CH

Professional Experiences
Since 2016 Lecturer, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Paris, FR UFR Department of Psychology and Education Sciences (SPSE) TD Introduction to Sociology and Anthropology, BA1

Since 2017 Referent Lecturer – School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, Paris, FR Seminar of Centre - (Un)ruling others and the self - with Olivier Coulaux

2016 Referent Lecturer, School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, Paris, FR PhD seminar CLC - Reading group of the Capital, K.Marx, with Ana Maria Guerrero

2016 Visiting Lecturer , School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, Paris, FR Seminar Arts, Politics and Anthropology – with Dr. Véronique Bénéï.

2015 Guest Lecturer, MA and BA, Fine Art, Bath Spa School of Art and Design, UK
Since 2014 Founder, Curator — Assembly Passage Project, Whitechapel, London, UK
2012-2014 Represented artist — BYCR Gallery, Milan, IT
2011-2013 Represented artist — La Scatola Gallery, London, UK


Full Professional Proficiency: French (mother tongue), English, Portuguese, Spanish
Intermediary: German
Beginner: Chinese Mandarin / perfect fluency in Pinyin.

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