'Incidental' Ethnographers

French Catholic Missions on the Tonkin-Yunnan Frontier, 1880-1930


This book, connecting the fields of social anthropology and missiology, presents a body of colonial ethnographic writing applied to highland societies in the southern portion of the Mainland Southeast Asian massif. The writers under scrutiny are Catholic priests from the Société des Missions Étrangères de Paris. Their texts from the Upper-Tonkin vicariate, in today's northern Vietnam, are paid special attention, notably through its major contributor, F.M. Savina. The author locates this ethnographic heritage against its historical, political and intellectual background. A comparison is conducted with French missionaries-cum-ethnographers who worked among the 'natives' in New France (Canada) in the 17th century, yielding the unexpected conclusion that practically nothing from this early period of experimentation was remembered.
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EUR €135.00USD $168.00

Biographical Note

Jean Michaud, Ph.D. (1995), Université de Montréal, is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Université Laval. He has published widely on the highland minorities of Thailand and Vietnam, including Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif (Scarecrow, 2006).

Review Quotes

" This is an amazing piece of work, a real tour de force. It is an invaluable resource for those of us working on MEP, Catholic missionizing in general, and anyone studying the history of colonial Vietnam & Yunnan."
Margaret Swain, anthropologist, University of California at Davis.


All those interested in Asian studies, French agency in Asia, colonial ethnography, missiology, and highland minorities of South China and Southeast Asia.


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