Incidental Ethnographers: French Catholic Missions on the Tonkin-Yunnan Frontier, 1880-1930 by Jean Michaud.

Here is a fascinating addition to the early ethnography of mainland southeast Asia. The authour, Jean Michaud, has provided this short account of the book’s creation:

Over the 2 years I spent away from teaching in Dunedin, New Zealand, I endeavoured to work on a book manuscript on colonial ethnography in French Tonkin based on archives I kept stumbling on while researching on the Hmong minority group in Indochina, who were my primary interest. This side show, so to speak, soon became a monster eating my time away, yet one only involving half the material I had gathered. Brill, the publisher, had asked me to focus on the missionary archives and I kindly obliged. Now, on the far side of my second desk lies that sad pile of ‘leftovers’: unpublished ethnographic documents produced by military officers in the 1898-1905 years. Auguste, ├Йmile et ├Йdouard, mes amis, what shall I do with you?…