Gradhiva n°15


Strangely Human Robots

May 2012

What is at play when a robot is given a human appearance, then we look into its eyes? It is around this question that the different contributions revolve in this issue of the Gradhiva Journal. Developing a comparative anthropology of artificial creatures in their diversity (from the automatons of ancient India to the most recent creations on the sex toys market, by way of Japanese marionettes), the authors of this special survey contemplate these moments of interaction which oblige man, faced with his own image, to set up a new relationship with objects that resemble him and which can stimulate unease as well as empathy. To do this, they attempt to liberate humanoid robotics from the prophetic discourse that often accompanies it in order to better grasp contemporary challenges, in particular with the help of a precise ethnography of laboratory practices. With its characteristically interdisciplinary perspective, Gradhiva provides in this issue an unusual contribution to the study of anthropomorphic machines.  

Buy this issue online


Special issue: Strangely Human Robots

Coordinated and presented by Denis Vidal and Emmanuel Grimaud

  • Aux frontières de l'humain. Pour une anthropologie comparée des créatures artificielles, by Emmanuel Grimaud and Denis Vidal
  • La vallée de l'étrange by Masahiro Mori
  • Aux origines de l'anthropomorphisme.  Intersubjectivité et théorie de l'esprit, by Gabriella Airenti
  • Vers un nouveau pacte anthropomorphique! [Towards a new anthropomorphic pact!] Les enjeux anthropologiques de la nouvelle robotique, by Denis Vidal
  • Androïde cherche humain pour contact électrique. Les cinétiques de l'attachement en robotique, [the kinetics of binding in robotics] by Emmanuel Grimaud
  • Le corps humain et ses doubles. Sur les usages de la fiction dans les arts et la robotique, by Joffrey Becker
  • Esthétiques de la manipulation. Marionnettes et automates au Japon, [puppets and automatons in Japan] by Zaven Paré
  • Machines, magie, miracles, [Machines, magic and miracles] by Charles Malamoud


  • Le Bouddha dans le robot. [The Buddha in the robot: a robot engineer’s thoughts on science and religion] Meeting with Masahiro Mori 

Studies and essays 

  • La chorégraphie du bâton divinatoire comme écriture sonore au Burkina Faso, by Danouta Liberski-Bagnoud
  • L'œil du hautbois. Son, espace et images divines dans le culte sivaïte, Inde du Sud, [sound, space and divine images in the cult of Śiva, South India], by William Tallotte

Scientific column



  • 240 pages (20x27 cm)
  • 103 illustrations
  • ISBN : 9 782357 440470
  • €20