The defense had been announced on Twitter, which, already, is not trivial. Then we had to warn the fans: not everyone could come in, there would be a video broadcast… Nothing worked: that day, in the Michel de Certeau room of the Center Sèvres – the Parisian university of the Jesuits – the hundred or so places were taken by storm, some settling on the ground. It was September, the weather was fine, the open windows overlooked a sunny garden. At the end of the room, seated behind a nasty table, Gaël Giraud, without a tie but wearing his little priest’s cross on the lapel of his jacket, blushing with heat and stress, was like a child in front of the five members of the jury installed on the the platform. His thesis, which he was preparing to defend, was entitled: “Composing a world in common. A “political theology of the Anthropocene”. “Bigre …
Can a thesis in theology constitute an event, in a France where religion is “a private affair”? It seems so. It must be said that, that afternoon, the doctoral candidate had a particular profile. Gaël Giraud, 51, a Jesuit, is best known for being a brilliant research director of the CNRS, former chief economist of the powerful French Development Agency (AFD). Accustomed to the media, solicited by politicians, vibrant defender of the ecological cause, he is an influential intellectual, at the borders of university, economic, political and religious networks.
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