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Le dictionnaire

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RIVET, PAUL (1876–1958)

French anthropolo-gist and outspoken critic of French colonial policy in Indochina. In 1925, he created the Institut d’ethnologie in Paris together with Émile Durkheim and Lucien Levy-Bruhl. In 1929, Rivet became director of the Musée d’ethnographie du Trocadéro and helped found the Musée de l’homme in 1937. He mobilized during World War I and saw combat on the Western Front. He was anti-fascist and an active member in the Section française de l’Internationale ouvrière (SFIO). Vichy removed him of his functions in the fall of 1940. Rivet immediately joined the resistance and took part in the famous réseau du Musée de l’homme. Faced with imminent incarceration by the Germans, he fled to South America and joined Free French forces. He became a socialist deputy after World War II. He was one of a handful of French intellectuals at the time to break publicly with official French colonial policy in and on Indochina. Named in extremis to the French delegation to the Fontainebleau Conference in mid-1946, Rivet resigned from his position after the first meeting, disgusted by what he saw as French bad faith. He met with Ho Chi Minh during this time and the two became friends. During a speech in Paris marking the second anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), Rivet implored the French government to take up negotiations with the Vietnamese president to end the war. His August 1947 speech critical of the French role in provoking the outbreak of full-scale war in Indochina on 19 December 1946 ended with his expulsion from the SFIO. He wrote numerous articles in Témoignage Chrétien, Franc-Tireur, and L’Observateur calling upon the government to negotiate with the DRV. In January 1950, he sent a letter to President Vincent Auriol proposing the immediate end of hostilities in Vietnam and the organization of a referendum under United Nations auspices. A number of leading French intellectuals signed the proposal. Like Paul Mus and Jean-Marie Domenach (father of the French China specialist of the same family name), Rivet contributed to a non-communist opposition to the French war in Indochina. However, Rivet was hostile to the Algerian nationalists leading the Front national de libération and supported “Algérie française”. See also ALGERIAN WAR.