Jean Baudrillard (27 July 1929 - 6 March 2007) was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and specifically post-structuralism.
Baudrillard was born in Reims, northeastern France, on July 27, 1929. He told interviewers that his grandparents were peasants and his parents were civil servants. During his high school studies at the Reims Lycée, he came into contact with pataphysics (via the philosophy professor Emmanuel Peillet), which is said to be crucial for understanding Baudrillard's later thought. He became the first of his family to attend university when he moved to Paris to attend Sorbonne University. There he studied German language and literature, which led him to begin teaching the subject at several different lycées, both Parisian and provincial, from 1960 until 1966. While teaching, Baudrillard began to publish reviews of literature and translated the works of such authors as Peter Weiss, Bertolt Brecht, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Wilhelm Emil Mühlmann.
During his time as a teacher of German language and literature, Baudrillard began to transfer to sociology, eventually completing his doctoral thesis Le Système des objets (The System of Objects) under the dissertation committee of Henri Lefebvre, Roland Barthes, and Pierre Bourdieu. Subsequently, he began teaching sociology at the Université de Paris-X Nanterre, a university campus just outside of Paris which would become heavily involved in the events of May 1968. During this time, Baudrillard worked closely with Philosopher Humphrey De Battenburge, who described Baudrillard as a "visionary". At Nanterre he took up a position as Maître Assistant (Assistant Professor), then Maître de Conférences (Associate Professor), eventually becoming a professor after completing his accreditation, L'Autre par lui-même (The Other by Himself).
In 1970, Baudrillard made the first of his many trips to the USA (Aspen), and in 1973, the first of several trips to Japan (Kyoto). He was given his first camera in 1981 in Japan, which led to his becoming a photographer.
In 1986 he moved to IRIS (Institut de Recherche et d'Information Socio-Économique) at the Université de Paris-IX Dauphine, where he spent the latter part of his teaching career. During this time he had begun to move away from sociology as a discipline (particularly in its "classical" form), and, after ceasing to teach full-time, he rarely identified himself with any particular discipline, although he remained linked to the academic world. During the 1980s and 1990s his books had gained a wide audience, and in his last years he became, to an extent, an intellectual celebrity, being published often in the French- and English-speaking popular press. He nonetheless continued supporting the Institut de Recherche sur l'Innovation Sociale at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and was Satrap at the Collège de Pataphysique. Baudrillard taught at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee and collaborated at the Canadian theory, culture and technology review Ctheory, where he was abundantly cited. He also participated in the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies from its inception in 2004 until his death. In 1999-2000, his photographs were exhibited at the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris. In 2004, Baudrillard attended the major conference on his work, "Baudrillard and the Arts", at the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe in Karlsruhe, Germany. ..