Conference: “The French School of Sociology and Traditional China: For the Centenary of Marcel Granet’s Festivals and Songs in Ancient China”

The conference “The French School of Sociology and Traditional China: For the Centenary of Marcel Granet’s Festivals and Songs in Ancient China”, organized by the Xu-Ricci Centre for Dialogue (Fudan University, Department of Philosophy) and the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), will be held in Fudan University, Shanghai, 2401, West Guanghua Tower, on May, 16th and 17th. The working languages will be Chinese, French and English.

The presentation and the program of the conference (in Chinese) is available on the following website.  


While it has been a hundred years since he first published his Festivals and Songs in Ancient China, a thesis dedicated to his teachers Émile Durkheim and Édouard Chavannes, and even having been recognized by Lévi-Strauss as a major inspirer of structuralism, today Marcel Granet is still a figure as unknown as respected. However, the approach of the great Durkheimian sinologist remains of singular relevance today. Granet had always insisted, against all historicist approaches, that far from reflecting the real narratively, the texts handed down through tradition were to be considered above all as pieces of “illustrated ideology”. For Granet, to understand China implied both showing the underlying coherence of this set of texts, and trying to combine the depiction of the vernacular perspective with a rigorous comparatist questioning. Beyond the limits of his works, and as the divide is deepening between “universal” and “indigenous” perspectives in social sciences, Granet’s method offers us material for thought.

This colloquium is more than a tribute to Granet’s first masterpiece. It also aims to brainstorm about Chinese phenomena using the intact potential of the Granetian approach. We will focus on the different backgrounds to Granet’s work, especially on his Durkheimian and Maussian sources, while trying to renew his inspirational value for socio-anthropological studies on China new and old. The conference will cover areas from the guiding ideas of Chinese traditional thought to the dynamics at work in Chinese religions, of which Granet was one of the first to show the coherence. All these reflections will lead us to converge on one open question: what would a productive link between the sociological approach and ongoing studies on ever-developing Chinese traditions be?


Thursday 16th May Afternoon

Granet and the Chinese symbolic system

President: Benoît Vermander (Fudan)

13.30-14.00  Opening: Zhejun Yu (Fudan), Guillaume Dutournier (EFEO)

14.00-15.00 Marc Kalinowski (EPHE)

                    Reading and Re-reading Marcel Granets Chinese Thought 

                    Commentary by Jing Xie (Fudan)

15.00-15.30   Pause

15.30-16.30   Yves Goudineau (EPHE)

                    Emblems and classifications: remarks on efficacy in Granets China

                    Commentary by Guillaume Dutournier (EFEO)

16.30-17.00   Discussion


Friday 17th May Morning

Granet and the French School of Sociology

President: Guillaume Dutournier (EFEO)

9.00-9.40     Bingxiang Zhao (China University of Political Science and Law)

                    Explaining the Odes through the Odes: a Granet-inspired discussion of the philological approach in sociology

                    Commentary by Tiangang Li (Fudan)

9.40-10.20  Mengya Lu (Shandong University)

                    The theory of sacred places in Granet and the Chinese experience  

                    Commentary by Ying Xiao (Shanghai University)

10.20-10.50   Pause

10.50-11.30    Feijun Long (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences)

                    Two concepts of religion in the Annals School of Sociology and Granets study of Chinese religion

                    Commentary by Yinong Zhang (Shanghai University)

11.30-12.00   Discussion


Friday 17th May Afternoon

Gifts, rituals and knowledge

President: Jing Xie (Fudan)

14.00-14.40   Benoît Vermander (Fudan)

                    Ritual and games: the Chinese perspective  

                    Commentary by Yinong Zhang (Shanghai University)

14.40-15.20   David Gibeault (EHESS)

                    Granet and holistic comparison: Chinese kingship and the kula

                    Commentary by Jing Xie (Fudan)

15.20-15.50   Pause

15.50-16.30   Guillaume Dutournier (EFEO)

                    Guiding ideas and controversy. Thinking with Granet about Chinese intellectual conflicts

                    Commentary by Benoît Vermander (Fudan)

16.30-17.00  Discussion

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