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Keywords:

  • French anthropology;
  • ethnographic writing;
  • anthropology and literature;
  • national traditions in social sciences;
  • Métraux;
  • Lévi-Strauss;
  • Mauss;
  • Griaule;
  • Tristes tropiques

ABSTRACT

This paper offers a study of French anthropological tradition in a comparative perspective. It focuses on French anthropologists' writing practices and, in particular, on a strikingly recurrent phenomenon: that French ethnographers, in addition to their scholarly work, often write a ‘second book,’ a literary account of their experience in the field. The study of the divide between these two books allows for a comparison with other national anthropological traditions, particularly the American one. It sheds light on some difficulties in cultural and intellectual translation between national traditions in social sciences.