At the intersection of sociohistorical, judicial, and anthropological studies, DERVI’s multidisciplinary research innovatively re-examines the understanding of incest, focusing on its disclosure, practice, and links with social groups. DERVI will study this pivotal moment in the discourse on incest at various levels (familial, institutional networks, media), in different contexts (family, judicial, administrative, media, literary), in different ways (revelation, denunciation, testimonial, reporting, detecting, narratives, “cases”), and with varying repercussions (indignation, indifference, denial, scandal). Who says or shows what? From when? Who hears what? Who reports it? What are the ways incest is revealed? How is it received? The answers to these questions will help to understand what allows or prevents the telling, hearing, and reproduction of incest today.

DERVI will associate long-term ethnographic fieldwork and historical approaches, based on qualitative and quantitative analyses. Its objectives will be achieved through four approaches:

1 – Understanding the disclosure of incest and its handling in the contemporary context of child protection in a reporting agency, Child Welfare, and juvenile court (contemporary ethnographic fields).

2 – Understanding incestuous violence in a judicial context by questioning legal, penal, and sociocultural specificities in a comparative and long-term approach (criminal doctrine, judicial legislation, and archives, 18th–21st centuries).

The data come from the departmental archives of the assize courts. They are kept with secure provisions (application of the security policies of the CNRS and EHESS information systems).
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3 – Understanding the medical interpretations of incest and their diffusion in the public realm through the study of medical discourses produced on incestuous violence from the beginning of psychiatric medicine until today (expert reports and medical theory, medical discourse in the media and testimonial accounts, 18th–21st centuries).

4 – Understanding incestuous violence in its social and cultural dimension, based on the analysis of its reception in the public domain (testimonies and media discourse regarding incest, 19th–21st centuries).

DERVI will ensure the validation and dissemination of the results to the academic and scientific communities, as well as to institutional, civil (Education Nationale, family protection units, child protection, victims’ associations, etc.), media, and political stakeholders. It will enable the subject of incest to be reintegrated into the field of social services and will introduced new ways of engaging with it. Its results will help those involved in prevention to revise their practices and informational messages, and to think of new detection and prevention approaches. The results will inform public action, as well as that of elected officials and political representatives, who have the task of making decisions and recasting laws to stop incestuous violence. In this way, DERVI’s research will contribute to the fight against violence inflicted on women and children, today the focus of worldwide mobilization.