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Le dictionnaire

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LÉVY, PAUL (1909–1998)

Director of the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), who opposed the French war in Indochina. Born in Saigon, Paul Lévy obtained his undergraduate degree from the Institut d’ethnologie in Paris in 1934 before becoming a member of the EFEO in 1937. He worked on archeological digs in Laos and Cambodia before studying ethnic groups in northern and central Vietnam. He contributed to the development of colonial museums throughout Indochina and was named in 1938 conservator of the ethnology and prehistory department of the Musée Louis Finot in Hanoi. He co-founded with Pierre Huard the Institut indochinois pour l’étude de l’homme, working together with Vietnamese scholars during the Pacific War. He also taught history, ethnology, and archeology at the Indochinese University during the war. Following the outbreak of full-scale war between the French and the Vietnamese on 19 December 1946, the French took back control of the EFEO’s headquarters in Hanoi. Between 1947 and 1950, Lévy served as director of the EFEO in Hanoi at a difficult time. In 1950, he accepted a post at the École pratique des hautes etudes (4th section) in Paris. No longer attached to the EFEO, Lévy felt free to express his opposition to the French war in Indochina. As a specialist of Vietnam, he took part in the February 1950 informational meeting on the Indochina War organized by Christian activists at Issy-les-Moulineaux. He ended his address to this meeting by criticizing a war that sowed only “ruin, hate, and bloodshed”. He joined the Comité d’étude et d’action pour le règlement pacifique de la guerre du Vietnam, called on the French government for a settlement to the conflict, and would later speak out against the American war in Vietnam. See also CHRISTIANS AND FRENCH OPPOSITION TO THE WAR; INTELLECTUALS; PUBLIC OPINION.