Year published :March 2015

Pages :160

Size :14x21cm

Black & White photograph :10

ISBN: 9786162151040

Barefoot Anthropologist, The: The Highlands of Champa and Vietnam in the Words of Jacques Dournes

by Andrew Hardy

“On the trails you go barefoot. I’m still barefoot! I wonder how one can stuff one’s feet into shoes that hurt so much. Feet are like hands, they start narrow and end broad. And shoes, they’re quite the opposite, they start broad and end narrow. So, your foot in a shoe—it’s completely absurd!” —Jacques Dournes, speaking of the forest trails of Vietnam’s Central Highlands

French anthropologist Jacques Dournes lived in Vietnam for twenty-five years, from 1946 to 1970, studying the culture of the Jarai and other highland ethnic groups. He became a renowned ethnographer and the Jarai people became his lifelong passion.

In part 1 of this study, Andrew Hardy explores Dournes’s challenging monograph Pötao, une théorie de pouvoir chez les Indochinois jörai and his views on the role of the highlanders in ancient Champa. In part 2, Dournes speaks animatedly with the author about the Jarai, his feelings about culture and economics, his understanding of Vietnam’s history, and his personal experience of living in the Central Highlands.

About the author

Andrew Hardy works at the École Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), specializing on the history of Vietnam. He is the author of Red Hills: Migrants and the State in the Highlands of Vietnam (2003).

What others are saying

“A profound and highly readable account of highland Champa, one that brings Dournes to life and demonstrates the continued relevance of his unique approach.”— Jonathan Padwe, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

“Hardy provides valuable insights into the life and perspective of the nativist Jacques Dournes, one of the most important ethnographers of the Central Highlands of Vietnam.”— Ian G. Baird, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Jacques Dournes Vietnam Champa Jarai (Jorai) Potao highland peoples history anthropology


  • Structuralist approach to Jarai culture
  • Presents Jarai mythology and ritual
  • Explores Cham and Jarai cultural interaction
  • Discusses Vietnam-Highland economy in the 1950s–60s
  • Exemplifies a methodology of research
  • Interview with Jacques Dournes (in French and English)
  • Photographs of Jacques Dournes