Out of the Study and Into the Field

Out of the Study and Into the Field: Ethnographic Theory and Practice in French Anthropology

Robert Parkin
Anne de Sales
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 300
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qd385
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  • Book Info
    Out of the Study and Into the Field
    Book Description:

    Outside France, French anthropology is conventionally seen as being dominated by grand theory produced by writers who have done little or no fieldwork themselves, and who may not even count as anthropologists in terms of the institutional structures of French academia. This applies to figures from Durkheim to Derrida, Mauss to Foucault, though there are partial exceptions, such as Levi-Strauss and Bourdieu. It has led to a contrast being made, especially perhaps in the Anglo-Saxon world, between French theory relying on rational inference, and British empiricism based on induction and generally skeptical of theory. While there are contrasts between the two traditions, this is essentially a false view. It is this aspect of French anthropology that this collection addresses, in the belief that the neglect of many of these figures outside France is seriously distorting our view of the French tradition of anthropology overall. At the same time, the collection will provide a positive view of the French tradition of ethnography, stressing its combination of technical competence and the sympathies of its practitioners for its various ethnographic subjects.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-843-0
    Subjects: Anthropology, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. LIST OF AUTHORS DISCUSSED IN THIS VOLUME
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Robert Parkin and Anne de Sales
  6. Introduction: ETHNOGRAPHIC PRACTICE AND THEORY IN FRANCE
    (pp. 1-24)
    Robert Parkin and Anne de Sales

    Rather like the nations they represent, there is a sense in which what pass as the British and French schools of anthropology really are each other’s Other: on both sides of the Channel, there is a wary awareness of the other’s alleged achievements and failings, perpetually shaped by a strong feeling of, and for, difference and distinctiveness. Perhaps this sense of respectful rivalry was first expressed aptly back in the late sixteenth century when, in a passage fromAstrophel and Stelladescribing what appears to be a joust, a minor but very English Elizabethan poet, Sir Philip Sidney, referred to...

  7. Chapter 1 ‘KEEPING YOUR EYES OPEN’: ARNOLD VAN GENNEP AND THE AUTONOMY OF THE FOLKLORISTIC
    (pp. 25-44)
    Giordana Charuty

    The intention of the exhibition and its catalogue,Hier pour demain, held at the Grand-Palais in Paris between June and September 1980, was to make the general public aware of the French ethnographic heritage on the precise occasion of l’Année du Patrimoine or the Year of the Patrimony (Cuisenier 1980). In the exhibition, a chronology of ethnographic precursors identified a succession of moments, from the mid-eighteenth century ofL’Encyclopédieup until 1937, marked by two ‘monuments’. One was the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires. The other was the beginning of the publication of theManuel de folklore français contemporain...

  8. Chapter 2 CANONICAL ETHNOGRAPHY: HANOTEAU AND LETOURNEUX ON KABYLE COMMUNAL LAW
    (pp. 45-74)
    Peter Parkes

    La Kabylie et les coutumes kabylesby Adolphe Hanoteau and Aristide Letourneux is a unique monument of early legal ethnography. Three large volumes, amounting to fifteen hundred pages, reported a decade of intensive investigation among the Kabyle Berbers of Algeria in the 1860s. It is recognised to be a definitive account of their autonomous social organisation by a distinguished line of Maghribian ethnographers, from Émile Masqueray and Robert Montagne to Jacques Berque and Jeanne Favret. Its rare archival documentation is being redeemed by current anthropological historians of the Kabyles such as Alain Mahé and Tilman Hannemann. Yet it is generally...

  9. Chapter 3 POSTCARDS AT THE SERVICE OF THE IMAGINARY: JEAN ROUCH, SHARED ANTHROPOLOGY AND THE CINÉ-TRANCE
    (pp. 75-102)
    Paul Henley

    The very nature of ethnographic cinema – how it is practised, how it is talked about, where its limits are deemed to lie – has been profoundly shaped by the work of the late Jean Rouch, who died tragically in a road accident near Tahoua, Niger in February 2004. In the course of a sixty-year career, beginning with his first tentative ethnographic reports published in a French colonial journal in the early 1940s and ending with his last film, poignantly entitledLe rêve plus fort que la mortand released in 2002, Rouch produced over a hundred completed films and...

  10. Chapter 4 ERIC DE DAMPIERRE AND THE ART OF FIELDWORK
    (pp. 103-124)
    Margaret Buckner

    The aim of this chapter is not to circumscribe the work of Eric de Dampierre – that would be a task too daunting for this author – but to shine a light on some of its various aspects, especially those that are related to his fieldwork in Africa. In order to limit the danger of reducing his thought, I will use his words – albeit translated into English – to let him speak for himself. My personal acquaintance with Dampierre began in 1982, when I was a Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Bangassou, Central African Republic, the town where Dampierre...

  11. Chapter 5 WHAT SORT OF ANTHROPOLOGIST WAS PAUL RIVET?
    (pp. 125-150)
    Laura Rival

    Few anthropologists today know who Paul Rivet was. Even in France, where he played a central role in shaping the discipline during the interwar years, the name of Paul Rivet evokes only vague memories: ‘Rivet, the Director of the Museum of Mankind?’ ‘Rivet, the Americanist?’ ‘Didn’t he write that controversial book on the origins of American Indians?’ The name is known, but no one seems to remember Rivet’s theoretical contribution or teaching.

    Rivet was a medical doctor, military officer, field naturalist, collector, physical anthropologist, ethnologist, linguist, a builder of academic institutions and a politician – indeed, a success in all...

  12. Chapter 6 ALFRED MÉTRAUX: EMPIRICIST AND ROMANTICIST
    (pp. 151-170)
    Peter Rivière

    Although Alfred Métraux was of Swiss nationality, I think it is correct to say that most people think of him as a French anthropologist and ethnographer. He was born in Lausanne in 1902 but spent much of his childhood in Mendoza, Argentina, where his father, also Alfred, practised as a surgeon from 1907 to 1954. He received all his secondary education in Europe, firstly in Switzerland and then in France. In 1921 he enrolled at both l’École des Chartes and l’École Pratique des Hautes Études, Section des Sciences Religieuses. In 1922, aged twenty, he obtained eight months’ leave of absence...

  13. Chapter 7 ROGER BASTIDE OR THE ‘DARKNESSES OF ALTERITY’
    (pp. 171-196)
    Stefania Capone

    Within the French anthropology of the 1950s, Roger Bastide played a preeminent role in the foundation of what was an entirely new domain of studies at the time, namely ‘Afro-Americanism’, defined in France by its notion of ‘Black Americas’.¹ If his heritage continues in France, thanks especially to the journalBastidiana, it was in Brazil that Bastide acquired his reputation, profoundly marked by the development of studies on the religions and cultures of African origin. His slightly marginal position within the French academic world² seems to have derived from his critical position with regard to the theories that were dominant...

  14. Chapter 8 THE ART AND CRAFT OF ETHNOGRAPHY: LUCIEN BERNOT 1919–1993
    (pp. 197-218)
    Gérard Toffin

    In the landscape of the French anthropology of the second half of the twentieth century, Lucien Bernot (1919–1993) appears as a quite original figure.¹ Like certain other anthropologists we are dealing with in the present volume, he did not occupy the front stage and was not well-known abroad, except perhaps by Western colleagues working on his particular geographical areas of research, namely the Chittagong Hills, Burma and Southeast Asia. He has nevertheless been very influential in France, through his books and his teaching at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (sixth section), which in 1975 became the École des...

  15. Chapter 9 ANDRÉ-GEORGES HAUDRICOURT: A THOROUGH MATERIALIST
    (pp. 219-234)
    Alban Bensa

    In an interview given to the Union Rationaliste in 1984, André-Georges Haudricourt summed up the initial context in which he learned to do research, and set the tone for the whole encounter: ‘I’m my parents’ son, and my parents were city people who’d gone back to the country because they didn’t like living in the city, having to say “Good morning, good evening,” etc. I obviously inherited some of that.’ Born in 1911 and raised on his father’s farm in Picardy, where a good number of farm workers were employed, André-Georges was apparently too sickly to go to school. His...

  16. Chapter 10 LOUIS DUMONT: FROM MUSEOLOGY TO STRUCTURALISM VIA INDIA
    (pp. 235-254)
    Robert Parkin

    Louis Dumont was born in Salonika, Greece, in 1911, where his father, an engineer, was manager of a company building a railway from there to Constantinople.¹ Louis’ grandfather, Victor Emile Dumont, was a commercial artist who created designs for wallpaper in France and for cashmere produced in India in the nineteenth century. Louis’ first wife, Jennie, died in 1977 after forty years of marriage to him. He later married Suzanne Tardieu, an expert in Norman furniture at the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires. He died without issue in Paris on 19 November 1998, at the advanced age of eighty-seven....

  17. Chapter 11 WILL THE REAL MAURICE LEENHARDT PLEASE STAND UP? FOUR ANTHROPOLOGISTS IN SEARCH OF AN ANCESTOR
    (pp. 255-272)
    Jeremy MacClancy

    Students of anthropology have it tough: the courses they are taught on the history of the subject are usually boring, blinkered and Whiggish to boot.¹ All too often the subject is presented as a deadening chronicle of disciplinary self-improvement, with each generation identifying, then moving beyond, the sins of their forefathers (and mothers). Evolutionism, this story tells us, was racist, functionalism dovetailed with colonialism, structural-functionalism ignored history, high structuralism was for mystics, postmodernism was an apolitical dead-end, while diffusionism was just plain wrong-headed. Only the present holds out much promise. ‘Onward, ever upward’ is the underlying agenda to this all-too...

  18. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 273-276)
  19. SUBJECT INDEX
    (pp. 277-288)
  20. NAME INDEX
    (pp. 289-294)