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
Paris, France,


The Maison de l'Asie and the library are closed to the public from March 16 until further notice.

All cultural and scientific events are cancelled.
Lecture by Mrs Tôn Nu Quynh Trân
25 March 2020
Mrs. Tôn Nu Quynh Trân's lecture: "The development of the urban space of Saigon from its origins to 1954 as seen through plans and maps of the city", which took place on September 19, 2019, at the Ho Chi Minh City Center, has been posted on the EFEO's YouTube channel.

This lecture is part of a series of bilingual lecture-debates (consecutive French-Vietnamese or Vietnamese-French; English-Vietnamese or Vietnamese-English translation) organized at the EFEO Center in Ho Chi Minh City. The audience of about forty guests consists of researchers, teachers, students, and intellectuals from Vietnam and abroad.
EFEO Field Scholarships - 2nd Semester 2020
14 March 2020
The deadline for submitting an application to an EFEO Field Scholarships for Master and PhD students enabling a field study in Asia at one of the EFEO centers is set to the 14th of March 2020.
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Doctoral contract – Campaign 2020
09 March 2020
As part of its support for international cooperation activities, the Ministry of Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation (MESRI) awards five doctoral contracts each year in partnership between a Doctoral School and one of the five Écoles françaises à l’étranger (EFE).

Details and the procedure for submitting applications to the EFEO can be found here.

Application documents may be sent until April 30, 2020, 3:00 p.m. (Paris time), according to the procedures specific to each EFE. The results will be sent before the end of June.
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Lecture: ''Kalash, les derniers animistes de l'Hindu Kush''
Paris, France, 06 March 2020
As part of the photographic exhibition set up at the EFEO, "Kalash, les derniers animistes de l'Hindu Kush", Jean-Yves Loude gives a lecture: "Solstice païen. Fêtes de l'hiver chez les Kalash du Nord-Pakistan". He will be accompanied by Xavier Nory, author of the photographs of the exhibition.

Thursday, March 12, at 1:30 pm at the Maison de l'Asie.
Paris EFEO/ASIES Seminar
Paris, France, 24 February 2020
Alain Arrault (EFEO) speaks on: "Écrire l'histoire en Chine" [Writing History in China] as part of the PSL-EHESS-EPHE-EFEO Master in Asian Studies, the general theme of which is Telling and writing history.

From 10:30 to 12:00, opened to all
Maison de l'Asie, 22, avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, Grand salon, 1st floor
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Exhibition ''Kalash, the last animists of the Hindu Kush''
Paris, France, 21 February 2020
A new photographic exhibition "Kalash, les derniers animistes de l’Hindu Kush" [Kalash, the last animists of the Hindu Kush] by the photographer Xavier Nory is set up from 10 February to the end of May 2020.

Photographs by Xavier Nory, report made in the village of Krakal, Bumburet valley (Pakistan) in January 1986 and from September 1987 to January 1988 and from May to September 1988.

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New publication

Arts Asiatiques 74 (2019)

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Preserving and enhancing Laos heritage: signing of a new project in Champassak and Savannakhet
Vientiane, Laos, 10 February 2020
On February 10, 2020, at the French Embassy in Vientiane, the Director of the EFEO signed an agreement with the French Development Agency for a project to preserve and develop heritage in the provinces of Champassak and Savannahket, in the presence of the Lao Vice-Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism. READ MORE
Director's visit to the Chiang Mai Centre
Chiang Mai, Thailand, 06 February 2020
Le directeur de l’EFEO a signé le 6 février 2020 le renouvellement du MOU avec la Chiang Mai University, avec son président, en présence d’Yves Goudineau, responsable du Centre EFEO de Chiang Mai.