Gradhiva n°4

fall 2006 : The traffic of cultures

The fourth issue of Gradhiva confirms the review's intention of providing common ground for anthropology, museology and history.
It opens with two studies in the field of ethnohistory. Jean Jamin and Yannick Seité offer an ethnography of a jazz melody, highlighting the role played by such 'songs' in popular culture, in literature, and also in formation of identity and relationships with otherness, whether black or white, American or European, Jewish or otherwise. Bernard Formoso's text takes another look at the way in which the Western image of Indochina came into being among 20th century orientalists, showing how the influences of other regional cultures - Indian, Chinese, or other - were interpreted. The study throws new light on the history of ethnographic and archaeological sciences in the Far East and on major figures in the field.
The two articles that follow present ethnographic analyses of museal institutions. Julio Vezub bases his study on the experience of the Leleque Museum in Argentine Patagonia, and describes the difficulties encountered in coordinating the interests of museologists, the Benetton group - the institution's patron - and the Mapuche and Tehuelche peoples concerned by the museum. Mathieu Claveyrolas takes an ethnographic look at the museum located within the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This museum, which is devoted in equal parts to the basilica itself, to its unfinished construction site and to its creator Gaudi, is used as a starting-point for exploration of the ways in which a religious and cultural heritage comes into being.
Finally, three texts go together to create a file on a performance given by Wauja Indians for the 'Radio France et Montpellier' Festival in the summer of 2005. The performance presented Wauja rituals, its highpoint being the dance of the great Atujuwa masks, and also gave the Western public an opportunity to hear the flute music and songs typical of the High Xingu. After over a year spent collecting, four French, American and Brazilian ethnologists specialising in the region look back on this unique experience, evoking the ways in which tradition adapts to museal demand.

Table of contents


- Jean JAMIN & Yannick SEITE

Anthropology of a hit from the Roaring Twenties, from jazz to litterature

- Bernard FORMOSO

Indochina as seen from the West

- Julio VEZUB

The Leleque museum and the Benetton Group in Argentine Patagonia


The museum of a holy place under construction. The Sagrada Família between archives and virtual completion


“The traffic of cultures”, about a wauja Indians performance in Montpellier, France Aristoteles BARCELOS NETO, Marcelo FIORINI et Christopher BALL, Franck BEUVIER.



- Jean Jamin & Yannick Seité, Anthropology of a hit from the Roaring Twenties, from jazz to litterature

Starting with jazz and one of its best known themes, the article sets out to explore that kind of “epic of the thing” that, as the philosopher Alain so aptly phrases it, music and song constitute, and where what is expressed in their apparent contingence is not only a modulation but also a modelling of the relationship between self and self and between self and the other. This is clearly an anthropological subject, which is approached through a study of three works by 20th century writers (Pierre Mac Orlan, Jean-Paul Sartre and Alessandro Barrico) where “jazz singing”, which all three focus upon, expresses a dialectic of identity and otherness, playing on associations and contrasts of colours, both musical and fleshly, in the image of the famous Black, Brown And Beige suite created by Duke Ellington in 1943, and that Darius Milhaud sought to recreate twenty years sooner in his music for the ballet The Creation of the World, combining jazz, blues and scholarly European musical traditions, all played and danced in a set desIgned by Fernand Léger, composed of long black, white and ochre flats. Here, with these three works, our colours are black, white and blond.

- Bernard Formoso, Indochina as seen from the West

The essay takes a critical look at theses produced by the best-known European orientalists and their Asian emulators between 1910 and 1960 regarding the halfway stage between Indian and Chinese civilisations that Southeast Asia appeared to them to be – a regional interface neatly summed up in the term Indochina that was applied to its continental part. Whether they were French (S. Levy, G. Coedes and P. Mus), Dutch (J.C. Van Leur), British (H.G. Quaritch Wales) or Indian (B.R. Chaterjee, N. Sastri and R.C. Majumdar), their points of view, deeply influenced by the ideological and institutional hold that India specialists had over the orientalism of the period, oscillated between a diffusionist approach, which saw Southeast Asian autochthonic cultures as a simple hotchpotch of ideas come from elsewhere, and a certainly rather more respectful approach that recognised the dynamism of local societies, but which nonetheless saw them as playing a minor role in their own cultural fabric.

- Julio Vezub, The Leleque museum and the Benetton Group in Argentine Patagonia

The Benetton Group financed the setting up of a museum of regional history, which opened its doors in May 2000, located on a large estancia owned by the group in northeastern Argentine Patagonia. Based on the experience of a member of the team of anthropologists and historians who planned the exhibitions housed in the Leleque museum, analysis is made of the use and interpretation of late 19th century photographs of natives with no outside territorial monitoring. The article takes a closer look at the conflicts of memory and over land ownership that the event gave rise to between the Benetton Group and Mapuche families, and also considers the ethical aspects of participation by social sciences professionals in the drawing up of historical accounts in a context of private patronage.

- Mathieu Claveyrolas, The museum of a holy place under construction. The Sagrada Família between archives and virtual completion

The Catholic Sagrada Família church in Barcelona, is a monumental holy place whose construction began in the late 19th century under the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, and is still underway. The site includes a museum illustrating the history of the place in concentrated form. It is not, however, simply content to educate us with exhibits recounting the various stages and techniques of construction – on the contrary, it contributes fully to patrimonialisation of this holy place in the making, and to the ongoing beatification of its main architect. Nor is it content to offer us a simple recapitulation of the mandatory visit to the site by tourists and the faithful, but provides illustration of the site’s various temporalities, using some often very original museographic procedures, and gives its visitors an idea of what the finished work will be like.