August 15, 2013

Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient (BEFEO)

I found an incredibly useful resource,, that has archived all the BEFEO issues from this publication from 1901-2003 and has made them available for FREE.  Details and link are below.

BEFEO is the the publication that was created by a cultural research organization called l'École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO).  An organization which had been created by colonialist France over a century ago which to this day still has offices throughout Asia.  (* Read side note below if you're curious to know why they did this.).  The organization and publication still exist today.

In spite of their colonizing ways, the one thing the French did well was that they documented their rescherche culturelle (cultural research) quite well.  The research they did was often published in the Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient (BEFEO).  Or sometimes the research would be published into books outside of the BEFEO publication.  In BEFEO, they wrote articles on Laos but also on other Asian countries too.

Some recommended reading (though they are in French):
  • Recherches sur la littérature laotienne (Research on Lao Literature)
    Par Louis Finot
    - 1917, tome #17, plus de 200 pages
  • L'Art du métal au Laos (Metal Art of Laos)
    Par Christine Hawixbrock
    - 2000, tome #87, plus de 100 pages
  • Les Annales de l'ancien Royaume de S'ieng Khwang (The Annals of Former Kingdom Xiengkhuang)
    Par Charles Archaimbault
    - 1967, tome #53, plus de 100 pages
  • Noms vernaculaires de plantes (lao, meo, kha) en usage au Laos [Vernacular Names of Plants (Lao, Meo, Kha) Used in Laos]
    Par Jules Vidal
    - 1959, tome #49, plus de 170 pages
  • Inventaire des manuscrits des pagodes du Laos
    Par Pierre-Benard Lafont
    - 1965, tome 52, plus de 100 pages
The details below are from the website:

Journal Title:  BEFEO
Publisher/Years:  l'École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), 1901 -2003
Issues:  107
Articles:  3490
eISSN:  1760-737X
Languages:  Mostly French, some English
Background:  "The BEFEO is a peer reviewed journal which annually publishes high level scientific research either in French or English and which focuses on Asia – from India to Japan – in all the fields of Human and Social Sciences. It is one of the oldest and most internationally renowned journals in Asian studies."

Side Note:  If your curious to know why France created this organization, it was in part because they wanted to distinguish themselves from English colonialism.  How?  By saying that their colonization worked to elevate the countries they entered (though of course in reality this was not always the case) and that the cultural research was an important key to not only conveying ethnic and social research back to those in France but that the research was good for the foreign country itself.  The other reason was to fuel nationalistic pride where it benefitted them to do this.  An example of this in Laos' case was that they wanted to drive a wedge between Lao culture and its neighbors, especially from that of Thai culture.  In doing so, the French helped to nurture nationalism through various research in the areas of social sciences, ethnology, art and archeology.  This worked so well that as time went on Laos wanted more autonomy and indepedence from foreign powers, including the French.  The nationalism they helped to nurture essentially turned on them in the end.  Something else worth mentioning is that what goes along with cultural/social research and archeology is that they would also appropriate historical artifacts back to France unfortunately.  L'EFEO has within it many old Lao documents, manuscripts, and artifacts.  But I digress...I'm such a chatterbox!  :)

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