Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study for a discussion of the interplay between ethnography and theory in understanding public institutions such as policing and prisons and international engagement such as humanitarianism. Fassin explains how immersion in these public institutions and endeavors when combined with sociological theory and history, highlights the disjunction between reality and avowed purpose and intention of participants. Emphasizing the importance of social inequality, the impact of history, and the displacement of goals, Fassin explores: What is police conduct like in a banlieue of Paris? What is the relationship between the judicial system and the penal system? What is the impact of an emphasis on compassion and suffering in humanitarian reasoning and governance?