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Recent Publication

L’Adieu au voyage. L'ethnologie française entre science et littérature

Gallimard "Bibliothèque des sciences humaines", 2010.

 

In L’Adieu au voyage, just released by Gallimard’s Bibliothèque des Sciences Humaines series, Vincent Debaene illuminates the double book tradition central to French ethnography. Upon return from the field, the ethnographer often produces both a specialized monograph devoted to a certain rite or linguistic family, and a more “literary” account of his experience, aimed towards a more general audience. In addition to his 1940 Ethnology of Easter Island, for example, Alfred Métraux wrote L’Île de Pâques, published by Gallimard the following year. Seven years after The Social and Familial Life of Nambikwara Indians (1948), Claude Lévi-Strauss published Tristes tropiques (1955). Michel Leiris, Marcel Griaule and Jacques Soustelle offer additional examples of a tradition that continues to this day. Why two books? asks Debaene. Why do ethnographers feel the need for a “literary” supplement to their scientific texts? In addressing these questions, L’Adieu au voyage reveals the reciprocal fascination of French writers with anthropology and of French ethnographers with literature. As Debaene demonstrates these vexed, yet productive relationships between anthropology and literature provide a window onto 20th-century French intellectual history, from André Breton and Marcel Mauss to Jacques Derrida and Claude Lévi-Strauss.
French Anthropology: Between Science and Literature
Drawing on his new book, L'Adieu au Voyage (Gallimard, Bibliothèque des Sciences Humaines series, November 2010), Vincent Debaene discussed the reciprocal fascination of French writers with anthropology and of French ethnographers with literature.

 

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