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
37th Seoul Colloquium in Korea Studies
Online, 13 May 2021
The XXXVIIe Seoul Colloquium in Korea Studies, organized by the EFEO Center in Seoul, in collaboration with the Royal Asiatic Society, is led by Maël Bellec, Curator of Chinese and Korean Art at the Cernuschi Museum in Paris, on the topic: "Lee Ungno : a case study of a Korean artist in France (1959-1989)".
→ Thursday, May 13, at 6:00 p.m. (Seoul time), online: register with the EFEO Center (mentioning their full name and affiliation) to receive the information needed to connect.

Legend: Opening of the “Oriental painting Academy” exhibition in the Cernuschi museum in 1971 © Lee Ungno archives
Library: Inventory via Calames
Paris, France, 05 May 2021
The Paris library of the EFEO is continuing to enter its archive inventories into Calames:
- Discover the Henri Parmentier collection, which includes his correspondence, notes and preparatory documents for the publication of books, his work on the inventory of Khmer monuments, and maps and plans.
- You can explore the inventory of the Cochinchine Cambodia Conservation Department. These archives consist of correspondence files related to the general administration of the sites, as well as excavation reports and diaries, sketches and plans, which document research activities in the field.
Video
Online, 05 May 2021
Watch the new video of the "EFEO's Asian Treasures" !
In "De la pierre au papier. Les estampages des inscriptions thaïes de l'EFEO," [From stone to paper. The EFEO's Thai inscription estampages/stamps] François Lagirarde (EFEO) and Magali Morel (EFEO) present the collection of more than 3,000 stamps made in Southeast Asia since the end of the 19th century on ancient inscriptions preserved in archaeological sites and national museums and kept at the EFEO library in Paris.
Covid-19 Information: new procedures of the library
Paris, France, 04 May 2021
How to access the EFEO library and the loan-return service

The EFEO library is open by appointment from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. It offers a document lending and return service every Wednesday.
To make an appointment for THE READING SPACE: CLICK HERE
To make an appointment for the LOAN-RETURN SERVICE: CLICK HERE 
Please check the EFEO's Facebook page and Twitter account regularly for any updates to the terms and conditions of the public reception modalities.
Photo Library
04 May 2021
Discover the photographs from the collection of Marie-Louise Reiniche, anthropologist and specialist of the Tamil country (South India).

Marie-Louise Reiniche (1934-2008) defined herself as a "social anthropologist, aiming at an anthropology of movable wealth, in the context of Indian civilisation and in relation to rituals".
International Conference
Online, 01 May 2021
Attend the International Conference on the 'Daozang jiyao' and Daoism in the Ming and Qing Dynasty with the 'Celebration of the Companion to the Essentials of the Daoist Canon' Publication organized by the Centre for Studies of Daoist Culture, CUHK and the EFEO Centre in Hong Kong on Zoom!

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EFEO Doctoral contract 2021
30 April 2021
As part of its support for international cooperation activities, the MESRI awards five doctoral contracts each year in partnership between a Doctoral School and one of the five Écoles françaises à l’étranger (EFE).

Submitting application to the EFEO

For the other EFE

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In Memoriam
27 April 2021
It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing, in his 88th year, on Saturday, April 24, of Professor François Gros, an outstanding Tamil scholar and director of the EFEO from 1977 to 1989.

In Memoriam READ MORE
Kyoto lectures
Online, 23 April 2021

Bettina Gramlich-Oka (Sophia-Tokyo University) presents: "Studying Women and Networks in the Late Tokugawa Period: The Case of the Rai Family" as part of the Kyoto lectures.

📅 on April 23 at 6 p.m. (Kyoto time) on Zoom
36th Seoul Colloquium in Korea Studies
Online, 22 April 2021
Maël Bellec, curator of Chinese and Korean art at the Cernuschi Museum in Paris, will talk on "Korean artists in France: Why they went there and what they did there" at the XXXVIth Seoul Colloquium in Korea Studies, organized by the EFEO Center in Seoul and the Royal Asiatic Society Korea
📅 on April 22 at 6 p.m. (Seoul time) on zoom
➡️ http://raskb.com/event/6487/