‘We have eaten the forest’ Georges Condominas in Vietnam

We have eaten the forest

When Georges Condominas was 27 he came to live in Sar Luk, a village inhabited by the Mnong Gar people, on the Darlac plateau (nowadays the Dac Lac province), in the centre of Vietnam, seeking to immerse himself completely within the culture. He intended to overcome a particular form of indo-Chinese ethnography, the work of missionaries and administrators who had lacked the intimate experiences and the methods that a professional approach requires. For him, it was necessary to share the villagers' daily lives and his aim was to analyse their social life in its multiple dimensions as faithfully as possible, using tried and tested survey techniques. It involved ‘participating in the life of a village in the course of at least a year, in order to follow the sequence of an farming cycle in its entirety’.

The main purpose of this volume is to illustrate and to explain how a great ethnologist engaged in fieldwork, by re-assembling all the bits and pieces that his work represented: notes, sketches, photographs, collected objects… Condominas’ words, both past and present, provide insight into the meaning of this particular set of findings, both at the time when he compiled them and today.


128 pages in 20 cm x 26 cm format

88 illustrations + 96 reproductions in the catalogue part, 1 map

price : 29 €

isbn 2-915133-16-6 / 2-7427-6145-4

Co-publication by the musée du quai Branly/Actes Sud

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exhibition curator

Christine Hemmet, director of the patrimony section of the Asia Collections, musée du quai Branly.


Yves Goudineau, Director of Studies at l’École française d’Extrême-Orient and
Jérémy Jammes, PhD student in anthropology, université Paris X-Nanterre
Period photographs by Georges Condominas
Contemporary photographs by Hoang Canh Duong

Who is Georges Condominas?

Georges Condominas was born in 1921 in Haiphong. Among other works, he has written the following books which have been the basis for the explanations included in the present catalogue: "Nous avons mangé la forêt de la Pierre-Génie Gôo: Chronique de Sar Luk, village mnong gar" (proto-indochinese tribe from Vietnam's Central Highlands), Paris, Mercure de France, 1954 and "L’exotique est quotidien", Sar Luk, Vietnam central, Paris, Plon, 1965 (Collection Terre humaine).

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