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Epilogue: Michel de Certeau's Heterology and the New World

Author(s): Luce Giard


Source: Representations, No. 33, Special Issue: The New World (Winter, 1991), pp. 212-221
Published by: University of California Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2928764
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LUCE

GIARD

Epilogue:
Michel de Certeau's Heterology
and the New World
Our worldhasjustfoundan other.

3.6
-Montaigne,Essays,

MICHEL

DE CERTEAU would have been honored by this collection of

and even more touched bythe


articlesdedicated to his memorybyRepresentations,
for
was
a
man
who
never
of
he
separated intellectualactivity
gesture friendship,
for
others.
had been associated with
enthusiastic
He
from a warm and
regard
from its very beginning,and its combinationof disciplines and
Representations
could
onlydelighthim,as itagreed almosttoo wellwithhis own pracviewpoints
tice of transversality.1
The Space of the Voyage

Michel de Certeau had wishedto dedAfterfinishingLa Fablemystique,


of
the
New
World.As we reread his writingup
time
to
the
of
his
icate all
question
to the point at whichitwas interruptedbyhis death, we can see more clearlyhow
and whyaccounts of voyages to the Americas interestedhim. He had begun to
formulatethisquestion as a decisive momentin his attemptto constitutea "scias he liked to call it.2Indeed, thisheterologywas
ence of the Other,"a heterology
the chiefobject of his thoughtin itsvarious modes of inquiry,the final(and thus
unattainable) goal of his voyagesof explorationacross the ocean of knowledges
and methods.
To exemplifythisheterology,I will firstconsider de Certeau's essay on Jean
de Lery's Histoired'un voyagefaict en la terrede Bresil (1578), which appears in part

3 of The Writing
ofHistoryand whichis an essentialpiece in the structureof that
book.3 The book opens onto a thresholdof criticalepistemologythat describes,
withfierceirony,the prejudices and conventionsregulatingthe historian'spractice withinhis or her professionalinstitution.Beyond that,three equally important questions are addressed in innovativeways; these concern respectivelythe
of religiouspracticesin the seventeenthcentury,which
complete transformation
reversed theirmeanings as theybecame politicized;the statusof the "voice" and
of the "savage," when in the sixteenthcenturyScripturelost the power to speak
212

REPRESENTATIONS 33 * Winter 1991 ? THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

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the truthand ChristianEurope began to propagate beyond its boundaries the


Revelationithad alreadyceased to believe; and finallytherelevanceof Freud and
psychoanalysisfor history,which help show the discourse of historyin its true
statusas a strangemixof scienceand fictionin whichtheimaginaryreturnswithin
rationality.The threeareas under investigation,in otherwords,lead towardthe
Other-whether God, other men in other societies,or that alterityin oneself
againstwhom the mostpainfulbattlesare played out.
It is altogetherevidentthatthe search forGod is ajourney towardthe Other;
de Certeau had pointed out, withoutdwelling on the matter,that all types of
travelliterature
voyages are the same. Thus he remarked that,"unfortunately,
as a great complementto and displacehas not yet been studied systematically
ment of demonology.Yet the same structuresare common to both."4In another
autobiography of Jeanessay, de Certeau discusses the seventeenth-century
to
mad
for
close
as
had
been
confined
who
twentyyears,as a travel
Joseph Surin,
narrativein which madness and reason exchange roles, an account that "illuminates the questions that every voyage tries to articulate within the double
modality,both geographical and textual,of the opening of anotherspace."5This
inquiry,as de Certeau adds in a note,would have developed intoa book on travel
narratives.6
De Certeau was only able to completethe preliminarywork forthisproject:
a noteworthyrereading of Montaigne'sessay "On Cannibals,"7which should be
seen as a complementto the chapteron Lery; a studyofJoseph-FrancoisLafitau,
aux
the eighteenth-century
Jesuitwhose Moeursdessauvagesameriquains
comparees
as
an
autonomous
in
a
moeursdespremiers
wayfounded anthropology
temps(1724)
science;8 and several additional pieces along with,in his archives,many filesof
notes and fragments.But a firstoutline of the general project exists,presented
to the Centre nationalde la recherchescientifiquein the springof 1978, when de
Certeau was stillhesitatingwhetherto leave Europe fora teachingpositionin the
United States.The centerdid not accept his proposal, and he leftforthe Universityof Californiaat San Diego,9where he made thisprojectthe subjectof several
courses he taught between 1978 and 1984. The descriptionof the project is
appended here in translation;it illuminatesthe perspectivethat would have
guided de Certeau in his study of narrativesof journeys between France and
Brazil fromthe sixteenthto theeighteenthcenturies.The proposal revivesregret
forthe book thatwe will never read, as well as leaves unexplained the originsof
de Certeau's interestin a marginalizedliterarygenre rarelystudiedbyhistorians.
I can onlyofferconjecturesas to the reasons forhis interestin such accounts.
Some of these reasons stemfromexternalinfluences,othersfromsubjectivefactors of his intellectualtrajectory.In the foreground,there is the influenceof
Alphonse Dupront (1905-90), who is not well knownoutside France due to his
unusual habitsof publication.A medievalist,the studentand intellectualheir of
Paul Alphandery,Dupront began his studieswiththeCrusades but thenenlarged
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and theNewWorld

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213

his fieldof inquiryto include all occasions of the sacred, both in itselfand in its
social manifestations.He was captivatedby rites,sacred places, images, and pilgrimages,and combineda historian'seruditionwithmetaphysicaland theological
preoccupationsas wellas witha sustainedinterestin depth psychology.This combination was unique, and its originalitywas increased by being expressed in a
language equally inimitable,sometimeslyrical,archaic,and precious,but always
precise.
Dupront was for a long time a professorat the Sorbonne and the Ecole des
hautes etudes. He was thus at the center of a networkof historians,without
observingthe usual customsof publicationbut influencingnumerous historians
in and outside the medieval sphere such as Mona Ozouf, Dominique Julia, and
de Certeau. One of Dupront's habitswas to disperse the fragmentsof his work,
alwayspresentedas provisionaland partial,in a hundred improbableplaces (collectionsof limitedcirculation,obscure local reviews,and so on), as if he wished
to make the fruitof his studies invisible.Perhaps he wished to impose on his
reader an initiationlike thatof the holy grail; only if one knew how to discover
itstrace could one accede to the sacred texts.'?
De Certeau, who never had a tasteforritesof initiationor forJungian pansymbolism,admired Dupront and for a time participatedin his seminar. He
sometimes alluded to it as a completed moment of the past, but always with
respect and a kind of regretfor what it mighthave accomplished." In reading
Dupront's book (published in 1987 and not seen by de Certeau), one begins to
understand what in the old master could have interested,irritated,and disappointed his junior. Three notable themes in Dupront would have attractedde
Certeau: the question of the Other, the problem of space, and the privilege
granted to vision.These themes,whichcan be recognized in all levels of de Certeau's work,were profoundlyimbricatedin de Certeau's thoughtand stemfrom
experiences that date from before his being acquainted with Dupront.'2 But
Dupront certainlyinfluencedde Certeau's reflections,if only by obliginghim to
clarifyhis positionon essentialpointson whichhe differedfromDupront, particularlyon the religious phenomenon and its possible psychoanalyticinterpretation.This negativeinfluencecan be found especiallyin de Certeau's opposite
approach to the historyof mysticism.However,it also played a positiverole in his
recognitionof the importanceof the historicalencounterwiththe Other and of
the experience of space.
This becomes clear if one returnsto Dupront's definitionof the pilgrimage
as a "physicalact of masteryover space," a "march to elsewhere" that is "an instance of the Other."13De Certeau often mentioned a long article in which
Dupront meditateson the emergenceof ChristianEurope fromthe Middle Ages
and fromitsgeographicalfrontiers:"The occidentaldiscovererindeed is theconqueror of the earth: thisconquest saw itselfas a crusade or a missioneven before
the passions of imperialismhad found the courage to declare themselves."'4In
214

REPRESENTATIONS

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rereading Dupront's article,one noticestwo similaritieswithde Certeau's work.


On the one hand, Montaigne is given an importantplace, and his essay on cannibals is the object of a commentary;15 a comparison of the two readings by
Dupront and de Certeau is instructiveon their differentstyles,methods, and
intentions.On the otherhand, thereis a stronginsistenceon visionand the visual
appropriation of space. Dupront cites as well Marc Lescarbot'sHistoirede la NouvelleFrance(1609), in which the discovereris "desirous not so much of traveling
as of ocularly recognizingthe earth,"and then Montaigne,again in connection
withthe cannibals, to conclude: "[Possessingthe thingthroughvision]provides
the definitionof modern knowledge,whose progressis made in the reading of
space.... [Modern knowledge]is expressed in the act of descriptionas a figure
for the thing,in other words a shiftingfrom space traversedto space that is
read."'6 Such a theme of seeing, in almost the same termsand withsimilarconsequences, runs through all of de Certeau's work and, in particular,permeates
his most secretand autobiographicaltexton the question of mysticism.17
However, it would be wrong to attributede Certeau's interestin space itself
and accounts of it to his contactwithDupront. De Certeau's membershipin the
Jesuitsand thecontributionof theirdeterminateand veryrichtraditionwas chronologicallyanteriorand intellectuallymore significant.From its foundation,the
Societyhad turned itseffortstowardmissionarywork,especiallyin the Americas
and in Asia. Littleby littlea complete networkof houses and colleges was established, and an abundant correspondence was regularly maintained between
Rome and the diverseJesuit provincesboth withinand outside Europe. From
1547 Ignatius of Loyola expresslyasked Jesuitsscatteredacross theworld to proitsobjectiveconditions
vide informationto the Roman centeron apostolicactivity,
and specificproblems due to the circumstancesand traditions,the customsand
the conceptionsof the hostcountry,as wellas to submitto thecollectivejudgment
of the Society all decisions taken. There is thus an abundance of precise and
detailed documentation on distantcountries.This provided materialfor three
series of texts: an interiorcorrespondence, limited to governance withinthe
order (of which a large part is preserved today in various archives); the Lettres
etcurieuses,
whichrepresentthe public part of thiscorrespondence,ciredifiantes
culated in printfor the informationof the studentsof the colleges, the families
of benefactors,devout circles,and social elites; and finallya scholarlyliterature
whichofferremarkable
embodied in the relationsde voyageand otherdescriptions,
of distantcountries
on
the
and
customs
scientifictreatises
geography,language,
and theirinhabitants.l8
As a young historian,de Certeau had been asked by the Societyto devote
himself for a time to the historyof its early development. He naturallyread
closelythese sources,printedand in manuscript,forthehistoryof theorder.This
coincided withhis own interestin missionarywork: he had entered the Society
with the desire to leave for China, although the political situation made this
Michelde Certeau'sHeterology
and theNewWorld

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215

impossible;latertherewas a possibilitythathe mightbe sentto Cameroon; in the


end, he remained in France,where his voyage was firstintellectualand mystical
although he made numerous sojourns in European countriesand especiallyin
North and South America after 1966. It is possible, as well, that an encounter
thatoccurred in the Societyhad an influenceon his laterreflectionson space; this
was withFrancoisde Dainville (1909-71), a specialistin the historyof education
For several years Dainville and de Certeau lived in the same
and cartography.19
in
Jesuitcommunity Paris,and while it does not seem thattheirproximityled to
veryclose ties,there certainlyexisted an intellectualexchange and a reciprocal
esteem. De Certeau knewDainville'sworkwell and spoke on occasion of sessions
spent togetherover ancient maps, objects that fascinatedhim and to which he
dedicated his last public lecturein Paris in December 1985.
These encounters,readings,the traditionof the Society,his desire to leave as
a missionarydid not, however,create in de Certeau his passionate interestin
voyages,space, and the act of seeing,even iftheynourishedit. He had had from
childhood an intensedesire,in his own words,to "notbelong,"to freehimself,to
overcome the limitsof family,of milieu, of a province and a culture, and to
encounter the Other in order to be, at the same time,again in his own words,
"transformed"and "wounded." At the basis of thisvocationforthe Other,which
determinedhis way of being in the world,there was a fundamentalintensityof
seeing, a featureto be found everywherein his work.This essentialexperience
inspired a strikingcommentaryon Maurice Merleau-Ponty,who was also driven
by the same passion forseeing:
us not onlybecauseit is a journeytowardexternalthings,but also
Vision"captivates"
in theseobjectsperceived
oforigin,whichis represented
to a reality
becauseitis a return
likeall truejourneys(the
it alreadyfunctions
at a distance.In thisrespect,moreover,
and discoverslittlebylittlethe place he comesfrom),and bearsa
travelerinventories
to travel:to travelis to see,butseeingis alreadytraveling.2
specialrelationship

Speaking the Other


In the studies gathered in this special issue, one immediatelynotices
the diversityof voices thatintersectand respond to each other,voices of the past
and of the present,the whole composinga singlenarrativeof the same destructive
violencethat Europe inflictedon the American Indian societies.Underneath the
sound and furyof this violence, de Certeau heard the rumor of another one,
violenceof the meetingwiththe
more secretbut equally important,a transformative
reached
had
Other whose shock waves
finally
Europe to undermine its old certainties.He oftenremarkedthat"no one returnsunchanged" froman encounter
withthe Other. In a sense, itwas the meditationof thisencounterin all itsforms,
past and present,external to each or internalto the soul, that preoccupied his
216

REPRESENTATIONS

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is indicativeof
mind throughout his life. His collection of essays,Heterologies,
about the
of
this
the
It
how
shows
else.
("What
interrogation
unity
nothing
terrains
diverse
over
such
that
a
of
Other?") produced unity investigation
ranges
as history,mysticism,literature,and psychoanalysis.In the final analysis, the
stakes of this work are to constitutea "science of the Other," for which each
inquirylocalized byitsobject providedelementsbut whichde Certeau knewhad
not yetresultedin a finaledifice.
It is not certainthatde Certeau thoughtsuch a "science of the Other" to be
toward which his
constructible;rather,it constituteda horizon of intelligibility
be
not
This
could
in
its
workaddressed itself
otherwise,forhis thought
entirety.
resistedall systematizationand equally rejected the pious consolation of global
hypotheses. His lasting frequentationof Hegel, whom he studied closely as a
skepticalabout
graduate student in the Societyof Jesus, made him definitively
to the
Renaissance
the
from
of
His
studies
"absolute knowledge."
religioushistory
Enlightenmenthad familiarizedhim withtheological-politicalquarrels and the
way in whichtheyjustifythe fragileequilibriumof antagonisticforcesin society.
Fromthislucid exigencystemmedhisrejectionof unifiedexplanationsand global
theories,but it resulted as well in an acute and almost painful awareness of the
limitsof each historicalfigurethatrationalitydisplayed.Thus he could never be
satisfiedwithone method,one period, one discipline,and hence his habitof subjecting each model he employed to a rigorous epistemologicalcritique. In this
way he establishedhis distance fromcertaintiesand voluntarilyremained on the
marginsof the institution-an itineranton the frontier,impossibleto make sedentaryeven afterhe became successful.
For de Certeau, to interrogateeach figureof rationalitywithoutprivileging
a stable centerof perspectivefromwhichto contemplatetheirsuccessionwas to
forbidthe establishmentof an exempted positionfromwhich theirtotalization
could be produced. It would thus be impossibleto give a definitiveformto the
science of the Other,and it would be necessaryas well to replace thisfirstenterprise withone, more modest,of illuminatingthe formalityof practiceswithout
delineatingan ordering principle.This necessityexplains de Certeau's reticence
toward Aristotleand his interestin Wittgenstein;all desire to systematizewould
engender a possible totalizationthatde Certeau suspected of missingthe point.
The price he paid was indeed the necessityof givingup ever producing a complete theoryor a finishedscience, but the advantage of this limitationwas the
marvelous freedom it allowed him in his choice of objects,modes of interrogation,and criteriaforexamination.21
The science of the Other was thuscondemned to remainan unattainablebut
always beloved object of desire for de Certeau, alwaysescaping any appropriahe repeatedlyused the same troution. In order to emphasize thisimpossibility,
herenor be satisfiedwith that"one
cannot
rest
not
formulas-"That's
it;
bling
or of Montaigne'sobjectionto received
whetherit was a question of mysticism22
Michelde Certeau'sHeterology
and theNewWorld

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217

images of the "savage."23Constructibleneitherby nature nor in principle,the


science of the Other,both desired and rejected,was thus the motiveforce of a
however,de Certeau did not provide
thoughtnever in repose. Of thisitinerancy,
any travelnarrative:differingfromthe voyagerat his return,he did not feel he
was endowed with"theauthorityto speak in thename of theOther and command
belief";24he was too lucid to consent to give way to the law of genre and, by a
rhetoricof the Other,end in a reductionto the Same.25
De Certeau did not want to play such a role, for he had no intentionof
speaking the truth.To claim to do so would have meant thathe believed himself
"authorized"to do so, but bywhatauthority?The logicof the positionhe adopted
denies all identificationwitha determinedplace chosen as the center of power
fromwhich the law is announced and fromwhichthe ownershipof propertyis
organized. De Certeau accounts for this refusal very clearly in The Practiceof
EverydayLife,distinguishingbetween a strategyalwaysinscribedin the logic of
the proprietorand the ephemeral tacticsof an anonymous crowd withneither
of his preferences;itsuffices
wealthnor a place of theirown. He made no mystery
dedicated
to others,trace withouthis
to returnto thatworkwhere several lines,
knowingit a marvelousself-portrait:
inthisartofdiversion,
whichisa returnoftheethical,
I knowofinvestigators
experienced
institution.
withinthescientific
of pleasureand of invention
Realizingno profit(profitis
and oftenat a loss,theytakesomething
fromthe
producedbyworkdone forthefactory),
in ordertoinscribe"artistic
achievements"
on itand tocarveon itthe
orderofknowledge
oftheirdebtsofhonor.26
graffiti
In thissense de Certeau's intellectualitinerancywas not a random activitybut
was centered and unifiedby the untiringactivityof reading and writing.These
were so inextricablylinkedforhimthattheycame toconstitutean entirelyunusual
that referred,on the theoreticallevel, to the statushe
(lirecrire)
reading/writing
of
to
the
appearance a "scripturalsociety"fromthe timeof the Renaissance.
gave
While the object of thisreading/writing
changed ceaselessly,itsprocedures were
maintained withouttheirresultingin a code, a definitivegrid of reading transportablefromone textto another,and even less in a statementof method.27Never
psychologizing,this interpretativepracticewas in a sense completelyFreudian,
not in thatitsubmittedthe textto thedictatesof Freudian orthodoxybut forwhat
it caused to surge up. There is in his mode of interpretationsomethingmysterious and consummate,surprisingand captivating,a delicate and precise perfection by whichone can followthe subtlestarticulationsof the textbeing analyzed
in order to discoverthe internalnecessitythat,in itsturn,revealsitsfinality.
De Certeau read all kinds of textsin this manner,from mysticalworks to
literature,fromphilosophyto travelnarratives.Thus he presentedthe autobiographyof Surin as a remarkablevoyage throughmadness and sufferingup to the
point that Surin recovered the possibilityof writingand throughthishis access
218

REPRESENTATIONS

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to reason. In this agonized text,whose narratorloses himself,divided between


an "I" and a "he," de Certeau soughtneitherto give a precisediagnosis of Surin's
temporarymadness, nor to distinguishbetween the true and the false in his
account, but to "hear what the discourse says of his body,"followingas if by a
musicalscore the fundamentalmusicalline.28Full of tactand showingan extreme
in listening,thismanner of proceeding was analyticin itscomposition
sensitivity
and thus foreignto all syntheticambition.This does not mean thatitwas without
forceor coherence; itis because ithad bothqualitiesthatithas gained the respect
of readers in differentlanguages and contexts,as itsmanytranslationsshow.
Michel de Certeau was fond of quoting a verse fromthe Aeneid:"Her walk
reveals the goddess." This image had for him a secretand profound resonance
thathe also found in FlowersofEvil in the sonnetdedicated "To a Woman Passing
By." In similartermshe invoked the image of Christas a man lost in the crowd,
I had oftenthought,in the
happy to disappear there,"thatillustriouspasserby."29
this
verse
of
that
when
he
was
time
us,
Virgil,transferredto the
among
happy
intellectualsphere,described perfectlywhatwas at the heartof his untiringwork
It was an "art of doing," as he liked to say,thatconsisted"of
of reading/writing.
passing more than of founding" in the "gesture of clearing a path, without
cease."30Francois Hartog has drawnup a just portraitof his admirable and inimitable art:
this
he traveledthrough,
butwithout
He discovered,
butwithout
inhabiting,
measuring,
a
in
inventor
but
which
a
certain
the
and
the
of
he
historian,
was,
way,
heterological
space
ofa proceeding
ratherthanthefounderofa new
theinstigator
without
historian
territory,
discipline.31

Michel de Certeau would have liked thisway of inscribinghis work withinthe


space of the Other,as he would have liked to engage in dialogue the voices from
the sixteenthcenturyin thiscollectionof essays,broughtback byvoices fromour
own century,and then to disappear into the oceanic rumorof the crowd.
-Translated by KatharineStreip

Notes
1. On the development of Michel de Certeau's thought,see Luce Giard, ed., Michelde
Michelde Certeau(Paris, 1988),
Certeau(Paris, 1987); Giard et al., Le Voyagemystique:
which contains a complete bibliography;and the dossier "Michel de Certeau, historien,"Le Debat49 (March-April 1988): 83-121.
Discourseon theOther,trans.Brian Massumi (Minne2. Michel de Certeau, Heterologies:
This
collection
has
no equivalentin French; I have reprintedhalf of its
apolis, 1986).
entrescienceetfiction
textsin de Certeau, Histoireetpsychanalyse
(Paris, 1987).
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219

3. Michel de Certeau, The Writing


trans.Tom Conley (New York, 1988), 209ofHistory,
43.
4. Ibid., 242, n. 52.
5. Michel de Certeau, "Voyage et prison: La Folie de J.-J.Surin,"in Bernard Beugnot,
ed., Voyages,
recits,etimaginaire(Paris, 1984), 439-67, esp. 443.
6. Ibid., 463, n. 13.
7. Michel de Certeau, "Montaigne's'Of Cannibals': The Savage 'I,"' in Heterologies,
6779.
8. This articlefirstappeared in English; Michel de Certeau, "Writingvs. Time: History
and Anthropologyin the Worksof Lafitau,"YaleFrenchStudies59, Rethinking
History
(Summer 1980): 37-64.
9. Michel de Certeau, "Californie,un theatrede passants,"Autrement
reve
31, Californie,
etcauchemar(1981): 10-18.
10. Alphonse Dupront, Du sacre: Croisadesetpelerinages,
imageset langages(Paris, 1987).
The work begins witha verylong "itinerary,"
whichends on an unusual
11-235,
pp.
juxtaposition of two citations,one fromAlain, the other fromPascal, as if Dupront
had wanted,once more, to cover his tracks.
11. See, for example, de Certeau, TheWriting
38-39, on the "relationwiththe
ofHistory,
Other" forthe historian.
12. Cf. what I have called, in one of his accounts, "the primal scene": Luce Giard, "La
Passion de l'alterite,"in Michelde Certeau,19-20.
13. Dupront, Du sacre,53, 55.
14. Alphonse Dupront, "Espace et humanisme,"Bibliotheque
etRenaissance8
d'Humanisme
(1946): 7-104, esp. 54. De Certeau mentionedthisarticleseveral times,particularly
in TheWriting
241, n. 25.
ofHistory,
15. Dupront, "Espace et humanisme,"61-65.
16. Ibid., 95-96.
XVIe-XVIIe siecle,vol. 1 (Paris, 1987), chap.
17. See Michel de Certeau, La Fablemystique,
2 on HieronymusBosch; de Certeau, "The Gaze: Nicholas of Cusa," Diacritics17, no.
3 (Fall 1987): 2-38. See as well de Certeau, "The Madness of Vision,"Enclitic7, no. 1
(Spring 1983): 24-31. On the city,seeing,and narrativesof space (whichare also, he
Life,trans.Stephen
says,"travelnarratives"),see de Certeau, ThePracticeofEveryday
as forhis mostpersonal text,
Rendall (Berkeley,1984), chaps. 7 and 9. On mysticism,
see de Certeau, La Faiblessede croire(Paris, 1987), 315-18.
18. For a briefpresentationof thisimmenseliterature,see the article"Jesuites"in Dictionnairede spirituality,
vol. 8 (Paris, 1973), cols. 1033-35.
deshumanistes
19. Francois de Dainville,La Geographie
(Paris, 1940); Dainville,L'Education
desjesuites,XVIe-XVIIIe siecles(Paris, 1978), a collectionedited by Marie-Madeleine
Compere, who has establishedDainville'sbibliography,pp. 537-49.
20. De Certeau, "Madness of Vision,"26.
21. De Certeau, Heterologies,
chap. 15, "History:Science and Fiction";see also the textof
the project forthe Centre nationalde la recherchescientifique,followingthisessay.
411.
22. De Certeau, La Fablemystique,
69.
24. Ibid.
23. De Certeau, Heterologies,
25. De Certeau, "Voyage et prison,"444.
26. De Certeau, PracticeofEveryday
Life,particularlychap. 3; mycitationis at the end of
28.
2,
chap. p.
du quo27. Ibid., chap. 12. See also Anne-Marie Chartierand Jean Hebrard, "L'Invention
tidien:Une Lecture, des usages," and Jacques Le Brun, "De la critiquetextuellea la
lecturedu texte,"in Le Debat49 (March-April 1988): 97-108, 109-16.

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REPRESENTATIONS

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28.
29.
30.
31.

De Certeau, "Voyage et prison,"453. The musicalmetaphoris myown.


De Certeau, La Faiblessede croire,292, 302, 304.
De Certeau, "Ecritures,"in Michelde Certeau,13-14.
Francois Hartog, "L'Ecrituredu voyage,"in Michelde Certeau,127.

MICHEL

DE CERTEAU

Travel Narratives
of the French to Brazil:
Sixteenthto EighteenthCenturies
Subject
is situated at the intersectionof history
RESEARCH
THIS
PROJECT
and anthropology.It proposes to analyze a corpus thatcould be considered as a
series over the long term. This research continues work undertakenin history
and spiritualityin the sixteenthand seventeenthcenturies;possession
(mentalites
in the seventeenthcentury;religious thoughtand practicesin the seventeenth
century;Leibniz; linguisticpoliciesand theoriesat the end of theeighteenthcentury) and in anthropology(possession; sorceryand mysticism;the concept of
"popular culture";investigationsconducted in Brazil,Chile, and Argentinasince
1966; the regular teachingof historicaland culturalanthropologyat the Universityof Paris VII since 1972; the foundationof DIAL, a center for information
on Latin America).
The project presented here originates from several questions that could
receive answersthroughan analysisof the dossier:
1) The informationprovided by the Frenchon Indian ethnicgroups living
in Brazil and on Brazil itselfduring these threecenturiesof relationswithLatin
America puts into question the relationbetween systemsof interpretation(conceptual apparatuses, mythologies,grids of analysis,dominant ideas, and questions) and their historical contexts (institutional,economic, political, social,
professional,and religious).In definingthecorpus under studybya geographical
bipolarity,I hope to locate more easilythe modificationsthatwere introducedin
the productionof textsby changes relativeto the formsof contact(for example
between the Frenchand the Tupis), to the internationalsituation,to the recruitmentof "voyagers,"and so on, and thusto studywhichelementsaffectthe reproductionof a scientificand literarygenre thatgoes back to the medievalitinerarium
(stages in the knowledge of another world) as well as to the ancient odysseysof
pilgrims,heroes, and merchants,and how theybringabout thesechanges. In this

oftheFrenchto Brazil
TravelNarratives

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221