History

Statue

The Indochina Years

The École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), or French School of Asian Studies, was founded in 1898 in Saigon as the Mission archéologique d'Indo-Chine. The institution was created on the joint initiative of the Oriental Studies section in the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres and the colonial government of what was then French Indochina, the former envisaging scholars working onsite in Asia - along patterns already established by the French institutes in Athens, Rome, and Cairo - whereas the latter aimed to establish an authority that would be responsible for the inventory and preservation of the cultural heritage of Indochina.

In 1900 the Mission archéologique was renamed École française d'Extrême-Orient, and in 1902 the School headquarters were removed to Hanoi, with its main missions defined as archaeological exploration, collection of manuscripts, preservation of monuments, inventorying of ethnic groups, linguistic studies, and the study of the history of all Asian civilizations from India to Japan. To this end an ambitious academic programme, a library and a museum - which has since become the Vietnamese National Historical Museum - were put in place at the headquarters. Other museums followed: at Da Nang, Saigon, Hue, Phnom Penh, Battambang, and elsewhere. In 1907 the EFEO was assigned responsibility for the conservation of the Angkor archaeological site. This early phase of EFEO's work is still renowned for the contributions of many distinguished Orientalists: Paul Pelliot, Henri Maspero, and Paul Demiéville in Chinese studies; Louis Finot and George Cœdès in Indochinese epigraphy; Henri Parmentier in archaeology, Paul Mus in the history of religion, among many others.

The School's development after 1945

After 1945 a new period opened for the EFEO. Despite the war, and thanks to a real desire for scholarly cooperation with the newly independent states in the area, its members continued their work in continental Southeast Asia: ethnology, Buddhist studies, studies of language, literature, and above all archaeology, with huge reconstruction sites among the monuments of Angkor using the newly developed method of anastylosis. In 1957 the School was obliged to leave Hanoi, and finally, in 1975, Phnom Penh. During this troubled period the EFEO dedicated itself to widening its range of activities and developing new scholarly collaborations. In India, a permanent center was opened in Pondicherry in 1955 to carry out studies in Shivaite literature and the history of the art of the southern part of the subcontinent; later a branch of this center was opened in Pune. During the late 1950's a center was established in Jakarta for archaeologists and specialists in religious epigraphy. In Japan in 1968 the Hobogirin Institute in Kyoto brought together specialists in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, and, a few years later, a center was established in Chiang Mai for the study of the Buddhism of Southeast Asia. Distinguished scholars from this period include, among others, Jean Filliozat in Indian studies, Rolf A. Stein in Chinese and Tibetan studies, Bernard Philippe Groslier in the archaeology of Angkor, Charles Archaimbault in Laotian ethnology, and Maurice Durand in Vietnamese studies.

The EFEO in the 21st century

The end of the war and return to a degree of stability in Southeast Asia allowed the EFEO to reestablish itself in the region, in response to requests by several local academic and political authorities. The Ecole first returned to Cambodia in 1990, after the restitution of its former real estate in Siem Reap and the revival of archaeological and conservation work at Angkor. Three years later came the opening of a new Centre in Vientiane, followed by Hanoi where the EFEO acquired a new building and library and engaged once again in research and publication in the fields of history, anthropology and epipraphy. This return to the institution's roots did not slow the opening of new horizons, both geographical and thematic: new Centres were opened in partneship with local institutions in Kuala Lumpur (National Museum), Hong Kong (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Taipei (Academia Sinica), Tokyo (Toyo Bunko), Seoul (University of Korea), and finally Beijing (Chinese Academy of Sciences); in terms of research priorities, the period saw a marked opening to the Social Sciences and contemporary Asia: study of Indian commercial networks, the modern and contemporary demography of highland continental Southeast Asia, ehtnic conflict and issues of national and regional integration of minorities, the dynamics of religion in the contemporary societies of China, Thailand and Indonesia, the politics of national heritage conservation. At the beginning of the 21st century the EFEO participates actively in the digital transformation of humanities research and the growing internationalisation of Asian studies, and occupies a central position in the network of high-level academic partnerships in Asia and Europe developed since 2007 under the European Consortium for Asian Field Study initiative (ECAF).

EFEO News
Covid-19 Information: new procedures of the library
Paris, France, 25 November 2021
From Monday, September 13, access to the EFEO library changes:
  • The library will be open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m
  • It will no longer be necessary to reserve a place in the reading room, but you will have to be registered or pre-registered on the Bulac catalogue for the "Maison de l'Asie" site: https://catalogue.bulac.fr/
  • The documents will be communicated 20 minutes after their reservation from your reader's account, and will be made available on the shelves on the patio side of the reading room- The library will welcome 15 readers per day. In case of overcrowding, priority will be given to readers consulting EFEO documents
  • The health pass will not be required, but the wearing of masks and the respect of protective measures will continue to apply
If you are experiencing Covid-19 type symptoms, please postpone your visit to the library.
Conference
Lyon, France, 25 November 2021

Alain Arrault and Fabienne Jagou participate in the conference "Corps des dieux, Gestes des hommes", organised by Claire Vidal (Université Lumière Lyon 2), within the framework of the Impulsion project, IdexLyon (2019-2021) at the Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon, on 25 and 26 November 2021.

For more information
Video
25 November 2021

Discover "The EFEO's pāli manuscripts: a living heritage" the new video of the "Asian Treasures of the EFEO" by Maïté Hurel and Javier Schnake.
Conference
Hanoi, Vietnam, 25 November 2021

On November, 25 the international conference "EFEO Photographic Archives in the Social Science Library of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences" is being held in Hanoi, with presentations for the EFEO by Christophe Marquet, Isabelle Poujol and Philippe Le Failler!
Thematic Workshop
Paris, France, 24 November 2021
The Écoles françaises à l'Étranger (EFE), the Inrap and Bibracte are organising a thematic workshop on field recording tools. This workshop is a continuation of the workshop of 22 June 2021, which enabled these institutions to initiate an exchange on their respective practices around digital technology in their research activities.
This session will be held both in videoconference and in person, at the Maison de l'Asie, headquarters of the École Française d'Extrême-Orient, in Paris.
For more information
Exhibition
Chiang Mai, Thailand, 19 November 2021
On November 19, the French Ambassador, Mr. Thierry Mathou, and the Mayor of Chiang Mai, Mr. Asanee Buranupakorn, have inaugurated an exhibition of old EFEO photos presented by the House of Photography, a museum-gallery in the heart of the city. An expanded version of "Of Temples and Men".
This exhibition includes photos of Angkor, but also of Phimai, Phanom Rung and Phanom Wan, highlighting the long-standing cooperation between the EFEO and Thai archaeologists, first and foremost Prince Damrong, whose full-length photo welcomes visitors to the main hall.
Émile Sénart Prize 2021
Paris, France, 17 November 2021

The Émile Sénart Prize 2021 of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres was awarded to Ramyatna Shukla for the body of research devoted to vyākaraṇa, an Indian technique of grammatical description and philosophy of speech, exegesis and logic.
In Memoriam
27 October 2021
Soedarmaji Jean Henry Damais passed away on 15 September 2021 at the age of 79. A former director of the Jakarta History Museum (Museum Fatahillah), an expert in architectural heritage, and a cultural advisor to successive Jakarta governors since the 1960s, Adjie Damais was a tireless supporter of the EFEO Center in Jakarta and its researchers throughout his career.

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New publication

D'un empire, l'autre
Premières rencontres entre la France et le Japon au XIXe siècle, François Lachaud & Martin Nogueira Ramos (éd.), Études thématiques 33, Paris, EFEO, 2021, 402 pages.


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Roundtable
Online, 26 October 2021
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Paris Agreements on Cambodia, the French Embassy in Cambodia presents a roundtable discussion on the theme “Safeguarding Heritage in the Service of Peace: the Cambodian Experience”.
This online event, hosted by the French ambassador, will gather representatives from the Cambodian government, APSARA National Authority, UNESCO, International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Angkor Region (CIC-Angkor), the EFEO as well as other actors involved in heritage conservation and development in Cambodia.

🗓️ Tuesday, October 26 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm (Cambodian time, 9:30am to 11:30am French time)
To join the event ➡️ fb.me/e/2CdlgSkX0