Cultural anthropology in France continues to bear the influence of a colonial-era distinction between “modern” societies with a high degree of social differentiation (and marked by rapid social change) and ostensibly socially homogeneous and change-resistant “traditional” ones. The history of key institutions (museums and research institutes) bears witness to this, as does recent scholarship centered on “the contemporary” that reworks earlier models and concepts and applies them to a world increasingly marked by transnational circulation and globalization. Anthropology at the Crossroads describes the evolution of a national tradition of scholarship, changes to its institutional status, and the models, concepts, and critical perspectives of anthropologists currently revisiting and reworking the foundations of the discipline in France.
This essay compares Sartre's existential psychoanalysis with Freud's psychoanalysis and Binswanger's Daseinsanalysis. On the one hand, Sartre's psychoanalysis, despite the pure phenomenological interpretation of the factical self (in the first part of Being and Nothingness), is ultimately metaphysically founded on the concept of 'human reality' (in the fourth part of the book), so that this psychoanalysis cannot be identified with the way of interpreting existence in the Daseinsanalyse. On the other hand, Sartre's phenomenological interpretation of the factical self implies that Freud's analysis of psychical phenomena is false, because the self 'is strictly to the degree that it signifies' (Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions) and is 'coextensive with consciousness' (Being and Nothingness).
La formation du structuralisme de Claude Lévi-Strauss
Lévi-Strauss considered that the birth of structuralism was mainly caused by his chance encounter with Roman Jakobson: the experience of war and exile had nothing to do with it. This article contends the opposite. It analyzes, from a sociological perspective, the articles Lévi-Strauss produced in New York in the 1940s. Focusing on political and cultural anthropology through the prism of primitive societies, these texts express in sociological terms Lévi-Strauss's self-representation, his hopes and strategies. He regards war as a moment in a cycle of reciprocal exchanges between groups. He sees power as the product of an ability to serve as an intermediary between groups and group members, and anthropological knowledge as the product of the social distance to groups necessary to compare their cultural models. Levi-Strauss's theories in exile are in affinity with his social position of a broker and intermediary between distant social groups among the French émigrés and between them and the Americans. Between the lines, all these formative texts show the efforts of Lévi-Strauss's consciousness to reverse the negative signs of his condition of exile. They played a role in the birth of structuralism even as they represent Lévi-Strauss's first auto-analysis (before Tristes Tropiques).
Claude Lévi-Strauss in New York
What were the significance and the impact, for Claude Lévi-Strauss, of his experience as a refugee in New York between May 1941 and December 1944? If one follows Lévi-Strauss's late reconstructions, his exile appears surprisingly as an almost enchanted experience, marked by various encounters (Roman Jakobson, André Breton, Franz Boas), the first contact with North-West Coast Amerindian art, and the discovery of New York, an almost surrealistic city “where anything seemed possible.” Without contesting such an a posteriori reading, this article shows how such a reconstruction has been made possible through a complex reorganization of a traumatizing past. It then appears that the exile, and its remembrance in later texts, played a pivotal role in the development of Lévi-Strauss's anthropological work to come: his experience as a refugee was at the root of his reinvention of symbolism as well as of his reflections on humanity as a whole.
Susan Sontag seems to have been on to something when she placed her word portraits of Michel Leiris and Claude Lévi-Strauss back to back.2 An elaboration of her comparison (which was more implied than explicit) may help situate anthropological practice in France—and Leiris’ special role in it—within the larger context of trends elsewhere in the world.
Representations of Franco-German Friendships in a Post-Liberation Trial Dossier and Suite Française
This article explores representations of Franco-German friendship through two complementary lenses: through the post-liberation trial dossier of a female collaborationist in southwestern France, and through Dolce, the second part of Irène Némirovsky's compelling novel, Suite Française. The primary aim is to illuminate and contrast the roles that historical and fictional narratives play in our interpretations and understanding of Franco-German relations in occupied France. The article also assesses the ethnographic value of the novelist's notes that accompanied the unfinished manuscript of Suite Française. Located at the intersections of history, ethnography, and literature, the article examines the ways in which the methods of the historian and the ethnographer, on the one hand, and the novelist, on the other, overlap and differ.
Art? Artifact? Spectacle!
Designed by Jean Nouvel, the Musée du Quai Branly, the just-opened museum of African, Amerindian, Pacific, and Asian cultures, covers a city block on the Left Bank of Paris's museum row. Both in landscaping and internal layout, Nouvel wished to frame the building within his understanding of the cultures on display inside, but also within its setting in the metropolitan capital. Objects collected in the imperial age now are displayed in what French officials see as the postcolonial era. But how were the pieces on display to be shown: as works of art or well-made cultural artifacts? Nouvel took the lead in evoking a vision of the cultures on display that is closer to Joseph Conrad's dark tales than to enlightened contemporary scholarship and museology on these societies. Neither an art nor an ethnography museum, the Musée du Quai Branly is a spectacle about the societies of the global South.
Julie Van der Wielen
Sartre's analysis of intersubjective relations through his concept of the look seems unable to give an account of intersubjectivity. By distinguishing the look as an ontological conflict from our relation with others in experience, we will see that actually intersubjectivity is not incompatible with this theory. Furthermore, we will see that the ontological conflict with the Other always erupts in experience in the form of an emotion, and thus always involves magic, and we will look into what the presence of the Other adds to such emotion. Emotions I have in front of the Other are directed toward my being-for-others, which escapes me by definition. This has a peculiar consequence when the imaginary is involved, which could help explain complexes such as narcissism and paranoia.
Translator : Nathan Bracher
disciplines (archeology, history, sociology, anthropology, ethnology, geography, political science, economics) now make sense only on an institutional level. Understanding realities past or present is predicated on mobilizing the entire set of tools available
Robert Doughty, Alice Kaplan, and Camille Robcis
Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War by Paul Jankowski Robert Doughty
Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis by Alice Kaplan Donald Reid
The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in France by Camille Robcis Judith G. Coffin