The elusive bureau of colonial ethnography in France, 1907–1925
in Ordering Africa
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A colonial ethnography was emerging which concentrated on Africa; its advocates chose the uneasy path of institutional dissent in order to achieve the creation of a bureau of ethnography. In 1913, Marcel Mauss undertook the tricky task of dealing with discontented amateurs, especially with the so-called colonial ethnographers. He was aware of the gap between his own academic circle in France and colonial officers out in the field gathering valuable data. Arnold Van Gennep was a close friend of Maurice Delafosse, a dedicated ethnographer and leading figure among colonial officers serving in Africa. For his part Maurice Delafosse liaised with colonial researchers who provided the journal with new and original data and he also wrote critical reviews discussing fieldwork issues. The growing antagonism between Catholic and secular ethnologists, whether colonial or academic, was also political.

Ordering Africa

Anthropology, European imperialism, and the politics of knowledge

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