Vo Nguyen Giap and Pierre Gourou [by John Kleinen]

Gourou_NguoiNongDanChauThoBacKy[ndlr] Message de l’anthropologue et historien John Kleinen publié avec son aimable autorisation. John Kleinen rappelle dans ce court message un aspect peu connu de la vie de Vo Nguyen Giap dans les années 1930.

Vo Nguyen Giap worked for Pierre Gourou at an earlier stage than 1937-1938. As I noted in my article « Tropicality and topicality: Pierre Gourou and the genealogy of French colonial scholarship on rural Vietnam » (2005: 348-349, see abstract below), he collected field data for Gourou’s ‘supplementary thesis’ about Vietnamese housing in central Vietnam as early as 1935. Gourou also told me in August 1994, when I interviewed him at length that he met Giap for the first time in 1931 when he (Giap) was freed on probation. They met again  in 1946 at the Dalat conference. In the early nineties, Giap travelled to Brussels to see his old professor. This meeting has never be denied by Giap, and according to Gourou it was a polite and pleasant event.

Read more (in Vietnamese) : Võ Nguyên Giáp – Một sinh viên “ưu thời mẫn thế”, TTCT [Tuoi Tre Cuoi Tuan], 13/10/2013.

John Kleinen, « Tropicality and topicality: Pierre Gourou and the genealogy of French colonial scholarship on rural Vietnam », Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, Vol. 26, Issue 3, pp. 339-358, November 2005.

This article discusses the relevance of the work of Pierre Gourou for Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese scholarship on colonial and postcolonial rural society in Vietnam. The term “tropicality” is used to situate Gourou’s work within the framework of both French and Vietnamese regimes of truth. It is argued that Gourou was aware of the complex human geographies of the tropics and monsoon Asia and the challenges this posed to both Western and “tropical” peoples. Gourou and the issue of tropicality is used to show that Vietnamese scholars did not completely reject French colonial systems of knowledge, and that decolonisation did not herald a complete shift in knowledge about rural Vietnam. Rather, since the 1940s there has been antagonism and accommodation between colonial and postcolonial, French and Vietnamese modes of knowledge production. While Gourou underscored the otherness of the tropics, and there are colonial overtones in his work, he had an immense influence on indigenous ethnography and geography in Vietnam and elsewhere in the formerly colonised world. The article traces this important influence and how it has been both questioned and affirmed since independence in the Vietnamese context. It is suggested that the humanistic approach that Gourou pioneered in his 1936 study of the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam has outlived and been able to overcome the setbacks and drawbacks of both colonial and revolutionary/Vietnamese politico-intellectual projects.

Source : Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

L’article est en ligne sur le site de John Kleinen (page de présentation, bas de page) : Article about Gourou