Public debate

Alice Lefilleul

The starting point of the podcast "Autrement dit", which is health, opens up on many different facets of society, but also allows us to reflect on hard science and social science.

University researcher and radio journalist Alice Lefilleul presents the first season of the podcast Autrement dit, a co-production between the Institut français and the association Making Waves.

Updated on 02/09/2021

5 min

Alice Lefilleul
Alice Lefilleul © DR

Let's quickly look back at your profile: you are both a literature researcher and a journalist. How do you articulate these two aspects ?

I obtained a PhD in Comparative Literature in 2018, co-supervised by the University of Montreal and the Sorbonne-Nouvelle. At the same time, I started working in community radio in Quebec, for a station called CIBL, while contributing to the publication Africultures. For me, it is really one and the same approach: in the field of comparative literature, I have an anthropologist's approach, which can be similar to journalism in certain aspects. The world of community radio is very free, and has allowed me to go back and forth with my intellectual practice and my field of research. For example, my thesis was partly about contemporary indigenous literature, so it was important for me to do fieldwork. Within this framework, I carried out "collaborative work", which consists of bringing indigenous populations together in order to let them co-create and have a say in my work. I met these communities initially through community radio: it was a good way to get in touch, more informal and less intimidating than if I had simply introduced myself as a researcher. So the transition between the two has always been very natural for me. 


Can you tell us about the podcast Autrement dit, whose first season you just launched ?

Autrement dit is a podcast that educates and informs about public health issues. The idea was to approach the subject by taking a step aside from the burning issue of Covid 19, approaching these major societal and global problems from different angles. So we designed a series of five episodes, starting from the smallest (what is a virus? how does it work?), and then broadening the focus to look at public health more globally, at how it is organised at a local level by practitioners, and at a more global level by the World Health Organization. The idea is to "zoom out" little by little in order to arrive at more philosophical questions, on the question of access to healthcare and care in general. The starting point, health, allows us to open up to many different facets of society, but also to move from hard science to human sciences.  

The audio form makes it much easier to tackle certain complex subjects. Oscillating between narration and interviews has a real pedagogical virtue.

What are the main principles of this new format co-produced by the Institut français and Making Waves ?

We conducted our investigation all around the world, sometimes by videoconference given the health situation. I worked initially as a researcher, taking ownership of this issue before unpicking the different threads that are linked to it. We also worked a lot in coordination with the Ideas and Knowledge division of the Institut français, to make the international dimension of the institution resonate, by involving the Institut français abroad. Each episode lasts 30 minutes, featuring my own voice-over, which raises several questions, and three and four speakers. In this respect, we have always tried to respect parity. The podcast features in-depth interviews, but also location sound recordings, giving a livelier result that allows us to hear the places and actions being described. Even if some of the recordings were made remotely, it was very important to us that the format could be carefully crafted, in order to take the listener by the hand and take them with us wherever our investigation took us. 


How do you see the podcast compared to other journalistic formats in terms of disseminating ideas ?

The audio format makes it much easier to tackle certain complex subjects. The oscillation between narration and interviews has real educational value, which couldn't be achieved with a written article, for example. Our goal is really to engage listeners in order to provide them with tools for understanding. So there is a genuine issue of scientific education. We have also translated the entire series, which is subtitled in English to make it accessible to a wider audience. 


Making Waves is an association that aims to make radio a medium for the inclusion of under represented communities in the public sphere, by establishing mobile and simplified studios. Can you tell us more about what led you to join Making Waves and your role within the association ?

Making Waves is both an association and a Solidarity-Based Enterprise of Social Utility (ESUS). It was created in 2018 around a tool: the radio box. The idea was to build a mobile radio studio that is easy to use and accessible to everyone, without special technical skills. One that allows you to livestream a programme with ease, regardless of location. Making Waves is divided into three divisions. A production division, which is in charge of the podcast Autrement dit, which produces fiction as well as documentaries, or interviews with artists. The NGO division, which aims to think about how the radio tool can be a lever for inclusion: for example, we have just completed a series of workshops to produce a sound creation with students from the Maryam Madjidi school of the CHUM (Centre d'Hébergement d'Urgence de Migrants) in Ivry-sur-Seine. And the division for inclusion, in partnership with the DIRECCTE (Regional Directorate of Companies, Competition, Consumption, Work and Employment) and Pôle Emploi, where we train people who excluded from employment in radio professions. We are convinced that these are jobs where the challenges - speaking, teamwork, rotating roles - allow us to restore the confidence of certain people. 

The Institut français and the "Autrement dit" podcast

Autrement dit podcast is a coproduction between the Institut français and the MakingWaves association.

Discover more about the podcast Autrement dit 

L'institut français, LAB