International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

The French sociologist and anthropologist Georges Balandier (1920-2016) is one of the most influential figures in the human and social sciences of the 20th century. He discovered Africa in 1946 as part of expert missions for the colonial administration. Elected in 1954 as Director of Studies at the VIth section of the EPHE, in 1957 he created the Laboratory of African Geography and Sociology (future Centre for African Studies) with Gilles Sautter. Co-founder of Présence africaine and Cahiers d’études africaines, he was appointed Professor of Sociology at the Sorbonne in 1962 and became Director of the Cahiers internationaux de sociologie. As a popularizer of the notion of “colonial situation” and author of landmark works (Sociologie actuelle de l’Afrique noire, 1955, Sociologie des Brazzavilles noires, 1955, Afrique ambigüe, 1957), he became one of the major figures of French sociology and of a renewed Africanist ethnology in the 1960s, focusing his attention on African societies in mutation. In the 1970s, his work focused on a global and dynamic anthropology of traditionalisms and African political and religious modernity of post-colonial regimes. At the same time, he conducted a long-term autobiographical work.

Keywords: Social and cultural anthropology | Sociology | Dynamic Anthropology | French Ethnology | Colonialism | 20th century | France | Senegal | Niger | Central Africa | Africa | Mauritania | Gabon | Congo | Guinea | Cameroon | Colonial situation | Religious syncretism | Prophetic movements and Messianism | Marcel Griaule | Maurice Leenhardt | Georges Gurvitch | Paul Mercier | Michel Leiris | Présence africaine | Manchester School

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