Élodie Grossi

Élodie Grossi

Professional affiliations: 

Research interest: 

US Social History (19th century and 20th century), ethnography, urban sociology, African-Americans, deviance, social control, racialization and ethnicization, norms, psychiatry

PhD thesis: Towards an African-American social history of psychiatric institutions : Race, pathologization, and social control in the US from the end of the 19th century to the 21th century.

My PhD thesis in sociology unites a sociological study with a historical reflection on the notions of race and ethnicity in psychiatry in the US. My aim is to interrogate the use and the change in meaning of these categories, used by patients, doctors, policy-makers and activists. Throughout this study, I will also examine the notion of race as the product of a social construct which does not bear the same meaning in different contexts.

My goal is not only to study psychiatry as a therapeutic science, but also to analyze the normative apparatus of social control (or liberation, in some cases) that it represents, in various contexts in the US.

My first angle is to look at the historical construction of the legal framework that dictates the use of racial categories which have historically classified and differentiated patients. I will also look at patient records in order to examine at practices in the field. I will study the use of these racial categories in segregated asylums and in state hospitals in the South during the Reconstruction (1865-1876), and until the 1960s.

Another topic of interest is the study of the successive federal and state public policies relating to minorities in psychiatry, as well as the rhetoric of « violence » and « agressivity » associated with blackness.

I will also attempt to study the discourses of civil rights activists regarding psychiatry and the need for a new form of ‘racialized’ care, after the 1960s and 1970s and after the movement of deinstitutionalization, taking the state of California as a case study. This will bring me to study recent concerns about health disparities, as well as essentialism in science and the politicization of medical research, especially in the fields of genetics and epigenetics. This social and historical analysis will allow me to highlight contemporary practices and discourses.

Brief biography: 

Élodie is a PhD candidate in Sociology at University Paris Diderot under the direction of Dominique Vidal and Paul Schor. She is a member of the research center URMIS, Paris.

She obtained the agrégation in English and teaches at Université Paris Diderot.

She is a visiting graduate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, EPIDAPO (UCLA-CNRS) from January to September 2015, and from January to December 2016.


  • 2013-2014 : Agrégation in English
  • 2012-2013 : Double Master's Degrees in Sociology and American Studies, Exchange student at the University of Chicago. Advisors: Françoise Lestage and Paul Schor, Université Paris Diderot.
  • 2010-2011 : Double Bachelor's degrees in English Studies and Political Sciences, Exchange Student at the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Political Sciences, Université Lumière Lyon II.