The Vientiane Centre, Laos

Vientiane Centre

Head: Yves Goudineau
Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient, FEML
1 rue Sisangvone - Unit 6
Bane Naxay
BP 3248
Vientiane, Laos
Tel.: + 856 21 41 46 20
Fax: + 856 21 41 39 52
yves.goudineau@efeo.net

In 1951 the Laotian government entrusted the EFEO with the mission to preserve and restore its historical monuments and to manage the nation's museums. At the same time, the EFEO was authorized to carry out archaeological excavations. The School's official presence in Laos led to the arrival of the art historian and philologist Henri Deydier, the ethnologist Charles Archaimbault - renowned for his comparative work on Laotian principalities, and Pierre-Bernard Lafont, who resided at the Centre until 1966. Earlier in the 20th century, Henri Parmentier conducted the first research on the religious architecture of Laos and the Khmer temple Vat Phu, while Madeleine Colani carried out a pioneering investigation of a proto-historic site, the Plain of Jars. A new cooperation agreement, reached in 1993, with the Laotian Ministry of Information and Culture enabled the EFEO to open a Franco-Laotian Centre for Buddhist and Historical Studies in Vientiane.

Current research at the EFEO Centre in Vientiane is primarily conducted in historical studies based on philology and epigraphy; however, the Centre also undertakes work in disciplines such as ethnology, art history and archaeology. The sum of this activity contributes to a wider program of multidisciplinary research on Buddhist societies spanning Asia, from India to China.

Laos, a landlocked country relatively little affected by its rapidly changing surroundings, offers researchers exceptional conditions for on-site investigation.

Current research program:

  • General epigraphic inventory and publication of Laotian inscriptions
  • Study of Laotian religious literature
  • Material and artistic culture of Laotian Buddhism (archaeology, iconography)
  • Comparative ethnology of Austro-Asiatic minority societies

The Vientiane Center includes a library for the humanities and social sciences -- the only research library in Laos. Since 2007 its publication office has edited a series titled Texts and documents on Laos. The Centre also provides facilities for French and European scholars, as well as doctoral students and EFEO fellowship holders.