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Missionary Ethnographers In And Around Tonkin

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Chapter Summary

Over the last few decades, the number of anthropologists examining missionary contributions to ethnography has grown, evident in mounting numbers of publications. It has been observed in various contexts of European colonial expansion that explorers, administrators, the military and missionaries constituted the first Western ethnographers. The significant Catholic presence in Tonkin, like the French colonial presence as a whole, was neatly circumscribed in time. Prior to the 1880s, the sheer difficulty in accessing the northern high region meant that the first French testimony on the northern mountain regions and their inhabitants had yet to be produced who limited their observations to river valleys. Leaving aside the events in 1873 when Francis Garnier briefly held Hanoi and its environs, the French presence in Tonkin spanned from the start of the formal military conquest in 1883 to the Geneva agreements of 1954.

Keywords: ethnographers; Geneva agreement; Upper Tonkin vicariate



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