INSTITUTIONALIZING DURKHEIMIAN SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION:
THE CASE OF THE FIFTH SECTION

John I. Brooks III
Department of Government and History
Fayetteville State University
john.brooks@uncfsu.edu

Introduction | Trends | Elective Affinities | Case Studies | Conclusion | Tables | Charts | Notes | Works Cited

Introduction

Emile Durkheim’s sociology of religion has had a great influence on religious studies.[1]  This is partly because of the innovative approach to religion he championed throughout his career, culminating in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912).   Though it changed significantly over the course of Durkheim’s intellectual development and received modifications as subsequent sociologists of religion appropriated it, the core of the Durkheimian approach to religion can be characterized by one methodological and three substantive claims. The methodological claim is that a sociological approach provides an adequate scientific explanation of religion.   The substantive claims, which Durkheimians insisted followed from the application of sociological method, are (1) that religion has social origins—it arises from social interaction; (2) that religion has a social function—it serves to create and sustain social solidarity; and (3) that religion has a social referent—when believers refer to the divine, they are really referring in some sense to society.   These claims, as controversial as they have become familiar, constitute a distinctive approach to the study of religion.

In addition to his intellectual creativity, Durkheim also actively promoted the rise of sociology as a profession.   His determined efforts to create an institutional framework for the emerging discipline of sociology and to recruit scholars to what he explicitly conceived as a collective scientific enterprise distinguished him from others who left the propagation of their ideas to the intellectual marketplace.[2]  The journal he founded, the Année sociologique, became the focal point for a team of young scholars who were attracted to the Durkheimian approach to social science.  From its inception in 1898, the Année sociologique included a section on religious sociology, through which Durkheim and his principal collaborators on matters of religion, Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert, presented their own research and critiqued that of others.   Durkheim also actively promoted the careers of his protégés, helping them find positions within the French system of higher education.   From these institutional bases, Durkheimian sociologists of religion were assured of a readership and, just as significantly, of students through whom they could pass their approach to the next generation.

While the establishment of a Durkheimian approach has been well documented, the relative influence of Durkheimian vs. non-Durkheimian approaches to religion on religious studies in France is still a matter of debate.   Two recent studies offer opposing interpretations of the relationship between Durkheimians and other secular scholars of religion. According to Laurent Mucchielli, the extensive contribution of Durkheimians to the leading professional journal of the day, the Revue de l’histoire des religions, suggests that Durkheimians had a constructive and positive relationship with other scholars in the field. [3]  Ivan Strenski, in a response to Mucchielli, argues that the relationship was marked by mutual suspicion, calculation, and conflict.[4]  Mucchielli and Strenski both offer ample evidence—often the same evidence—to support their views.

In an attempt to resolve this issue, I have studied faculty appointments to the principal institutional setting for the secular study of religion in France—the Fifth Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.   This Section, founded in 1886, was devoted to the “religious sciences.”[5] It was the only state-supported center of religious studies in France, and it was home to several Durkheimian religious scholars, including Hubert and Mauss.   It was also the home for religious scholars indifferent or hostile to the Durkheimian sociological approach.   By examining the history of faculty appointments, one can learn about the issues and forces that contributed to Durkheimian penetration of the field of religious studies.

Durkheimian sociology scored an early and dramatic success with the appointment of Hubert and Mauss to the Fifth Section in 1901.   This was followed by a steady increase in the number of faculty identified with the Durkheimian cause.   Rather than signaling a general revolution in religious studies, however, this early success proved to be limited and segregated.  A majority of religious scholars at the Fifth Section remained unpersuaded by the Durkheimian approach.  Furthermore, Durkheimians gravitated toward the “exotic” religions—“uncivilized” peoples, Egypt, Assyria—but they made few inroads into the study of Christianity or Judaism.

The reasons for this partial success are many. Some of the reasons are intellectual.   The theoretical brilliance of the Durkheimians made them outstanding candidates, despite their controversial approach. Their mastery of the traditional scholarly tools of philology and text criticism made them more acceptable to established scholars.  And their focus on exotic religions made their appointment less controversial than if they had chosen to focus on a sociological explanation of Christianity. Another reason can better be characterized as social.  Successful Durkheimian candidates generally studied at the Fifth Section before their appointment. The faculty of the Fifth Section knew the candidates, and even if they objected to their theoretical approach, they were more likely to choose a devil they knew than a devil they didn’t know.  A final reason is political. Pressure from Third Republic governments committed to secularization helped the Durkheimians to some extent and was directly responsible for one appointment.

The same reasons that explain the extent of the Durkheimians’ success also explain the limits of their success.   Intellectually, the continued allegiance of historians of Christianity to other approaches, including other social scientific approaches, made further Durkheimian encroachment difficult.   Furthermore, many scholars remained suspicious of what they considered to be rampant theorizing in a field that should remain firmly empirical.   Socially, non-Durkheimian scholars had their own allies and protégés whom they promoted whenever possible.  Politically, the Durkheimians were not the only group advocating a secular approach to religious studies, and as a result, the pro-secular political environment could not help them in every appointment.

Trends

To reconstruct the evolution of the Fifth Section, I constructed a biographical database with information on everyone who held a permanent position there, defined as appointment to a position with the rank of Director of Studies (Directeur d’études), between 1900, the year before the first appointment of a Durkheimian, and 1938, the last full year for which data are available before the disruption of World War II.[6] Since the number of positions was small (between fifteen and twenty) and the tenure of incumbents long (over twenty-five years on average), the total number of individuals was relatively limited—around fifty.   I excluded individuals who served only as substitutes—suppléants—and those who gave cours libres—special courses authorized on a year-to-year basis. These exclusions eliminated at least one bona fide Durkheimian, Robert Hertz, but they excluded non-Durkheimians as well.

Table 1 lists the positions of the Fifth Section, along with the incumbents at the beginning and end of the period.   This list is approximate, because positions changed names over time, new positions were created, old positions were abolished, and several positions were either combined or split over the course of nearly forty years.   Still, there was considerable continuity. I have used the name of the position at the time of creation unless otherwise noted.   If the position did not exist in 1900, the year of creation is noted.

For the purposes of this paper, I have arranged the positions by religion, roughly from West (Christianity) to East (Religions of the Far East), with some miscellaneous and comparative positions placed at the end.   I have drawn a line between the Judeo-Christian religions and others. I did not include Islam among the Judeo-Christian religions, because in practice Islam was treated as an “oriental” religion.   Even without Islam, the dominance of the Judeo-Christian tradition is clear and—given that France remained a predominantly Catholic country—unremarkable. Nevertheless, from its earliest inception the Fifth Section included non-Christian and non-Western religions, and the rough balance between Judeo-Christian and religions was also remarkably stable over time.

Table 2 lists new appointments to the position of Directeur d’études in the Fifth Section from 1900 to 1938.   In many cases, the individuals appointed had taught at the Fifth Section as a substitute, sometimes for many years, before their appointment at this rank.   However, their status could not be considered permanent until they had secured one of the directorships.   Because the overall size of the Section remained relatively stable, appointments generally followed the retirement or death of an incumbent.  Although there were some clusters (for example, ten appointments between 1927 and 1932) and some relatively sparse years (five appointments between 1909 and 1921), the overall rate of appointment was about one per year (thirty-four appointments in thirty-eight years).

In both tables, Durkheimians are indicated with an asterisk. I defined a Durkheimian as someone who contributed either to the original series of the Année sociologique, which appeared between 1898 and 1913, or to the second series edited by Mauss from 1925 to 1927.[7]  I did not include all those who contributed to the subsequent incarnations of the Année, because the degree of substantive and methodological agreement implied by such contributions decreased during the 1930s.

To get a better idea of how Durkheimians penetrated the Fifth Section, I used the database to construct a series representing the composition of the Fifth Section for the years 1900-1938. Charts 1 and 2 provide that information in graphic form.   Chart 1 shows Durkheimians and non-Durkheimians in absolute numbers. The overall number of positions hovers around 20 for most of the period, but the number of Durkheimians rises from none to six. [8] Chart 2 depicts the rise in percentage terms, from zero to over thirty percent.  This represents a substantial portion of the institution.

However, also clear are the clustering of Durkheimians in certain areas and their exclusion from others.   I used the dividing line in Table 1 to code positions as either Judeo-Christian or Other. On the charts, the category “Durkheimian, Judeo-Christian” is empty, because no Durkheimians were appointed to such positions.   Durkheimians were appointed in a variety of Other positions: “primitive” religions (Hubert, Mauss, Marx); ancient Middle Eastern religions (Fossey, Moret), Chinese religion (Granet), or secular ethics (Bayet).   Indeed, by the 1930s they comprise fully half the faculty in non-Judeo-Christian religions.   Christianity and Judaism, by contrast, remain Durkheimian-free zones.

Elective Affinities and Mutual Repulsion

Why did Durkheimian scholars gravitate toward non-Judeo-Christian religions? One reason was simply that these were the religions that interested them.   At the same time that Durkheim became interested in religion, he also developed the conviction that the fundamental aspects of religion could best be clarified by studying the so-called “elementary forms” of religion in simple societies.[9]  Hubert and Mauss followed him in this conviction, which led them and other Durkheimians to concentrate on ancient religion and on contemporary non-literate societies. Hubert specialized in Celtic studies, and Mauss became better known as an anthropologist than as a sociologist.[10]

Reciprocally, the sociological approach to religion seems to have been more attractive to established scholars of non-Judeo-Christian religions.   Mauss was a student of Durkheim, and Hubert was recruited by his friend Mauss at an early age to the Durkheimian cause.  Granet too followed Durkheim’s courses at the Sorbonne.[11] However, Charles Fossey and Alexandre Moret were both recognized authorities in their fields before they converted to a Durkheimian approach.   Their interest in Durkheimian sociology seems to have been prompted by a desire to move beyond antiquarian and philological exegesis to more general explanations of religious phenomena.   Both sought this explanation in the social environment.  

Even scholars who were not “officially” Durkheimian could lend support to the cause. Sylvain Lévi is a good example. Lévi was a Sanskrit scholar who held the chair of the Religions of India at the Fifth Section for many years.  A teacher of Hubert and Mauss, and a lifelong friend of the latter, Lévi was sympathetic to the Durkheimian approach, even though he did not contribute to the Année sociologique.  Indeed, Strenski has shown how Lévi left his mark on the young scholars.   Mauss himself declared that Lévi gave a "new direction" to his studies.[12] Lévi believed that religion should be studied as a socially embodied set of practices rather than as an abstract set of beliefs.[13]  He held that the sacred functioned to create and transmit a kind of energy to believers.   He upheld the primacy of ritual over myth in an ongoing controversy within the community of Sanskrit scholars.[14] Such ideas resonated with Durkheimian tenets about the origins and function of religion in society.  Hubert and Mauss would cite them in their own studies.[15]  Hence there seems to have been mutual attraction between the Durkheimian approach to religion and scholars of non-Judeo-Christian religions.

Conversely, there was mutual repulsion between Durkheimian sociology and the approach favored by those who dominated the positions in Judeo-Christian religions. Of the nine directeurs of the Section in 1900 who studied Judeo-Christian religions, at least four were Protestant—a surprising number for an overwhelmingly Catholic country. [16]  Despite some significant differences that occasionally led to conflict, these Protestant scholars shared some core orientations that characterized their scholarship. They were believers, most with theological as well as philological training.   Since they shared the assumption that Christian Europe represented the pinnacle of civilization, they tacitly assumed that religion expressed itself most purely in Europe.   As Protestants, they held that the primary accomplishment of the Reformation had been to divest religion of the ceremonial and hierarchical baggage of the Catholic Church.[17]

The Protestant scholars of the Fifth Section wanted to reconcile religion with the findings of modern science.   To do this, they took a broadly evolutionary and psychological approach to religion. They downplayed the liturgical and clerical manifestations of religion in favor of the believer’s inner experience.[18] The fundamental religious sentiment was the same in all religions, but as civilization developed, the religious sentiment refined itself and discarded the external trappings with which it was initially encumbered.   In general, the history of religions was the story of this progressive refinement. The science of psychology could provide insight into the mechanisms of the religious sentiment. On the other hand, sociology could only illuminate the superficial aspects of religion.

Given two such disparate approaches to religion, it is not surprising that the Durkheimians and the Protestants avoided each other and protected their domains from the encroachment of the other.   On the other hand, the two approaches also complemented each other in unexpected ways.    Each side thought its own religions of choice the most fundamental to an understanding of the religious experience.   As a consequence, each side guarded its own territory jealously.   For the same reason, however, each side was willing to let the other have its area.   A closer look at some of the appointments will show how both conflict and complementarity characterized the relationship between Durkheimians and other scholars at the Fifth Section.

Case Studies

Marcel Mauss represents an individual whose connections with the Fifth Section won him strong support among the faculty and overcame any opposition arising from his close association with Emile Durkheim.   Mauss was connected with Durkheim both intellectually and personally.  The nephew of Durkheim, Mauss studied with his uncle at the University of Bordeaux.   Through the articles and reviews he published in the Année sociologique, he had begun to establish a reputation for himself as a promising scholar and committed Durkheimian.  

However, his connections with the Fifth Section were close as well.   He studied Sanskrit with Sylvain Lévi and “primitive” religions with Léon Marillier, both at the Fifth Section.  On the recommendation of Lévi, Mauss taught a course in the Section on the religions of India during the 1900-1901 academic year when one of the regular substitutes became unavailable.[19]   Mauss’s good friend Hubert was appointed to the faculty of the Fifth Section in July of 1901. Mauss was thus well known to the faculty when a position unexpectedly opened up later that same year.

Léon Marillier, who held the chair of the Religions of Uncivilized Peoples, died suddenly in October 1901.   Filling a position at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes was in theory a two-step process. First the faculty decided whether to keep the same designation or to redescribe the position.  They had considerable latitude to change the position in whatever way they thought would best serve the institution and the field.  Once the title was fixed, the faculty nominated a candidate whose name was sent to the Director of Higher Education for official appointment.   In practice, the two steps often coincided.   The description of the position would depend as much on the availability of suitable candidates as on the areas in need of coverage.

Such was the case with Marillier’s succession.   When the issue came up at the faculty meeting of 1 December 1901, a nominating committee reported that there were three candidates: Ernest Bertrand, who asked that the chair be changed to the History of Protestant Dogma; Louis Duveau, who wanted the name changed to Germanic and Scandinavian Religions; and Mauss, who wanted the chair to keep its current title.[20] Hubert played an important role in the process, because the committee asserted that it could not make a recommendation without knowing what he intended to cover in his position, the Primitive Religions of Europe.   Hubert stated that he would cover both Celtic and Germanic religions.  This led two other members of the faculty, Maurice Vernes and Adhémard Esmein, to declare that a chair in Germanic and Scandinavian religions would be redundant, thereby eliminating one of Mauss’s competitors. Vernes attempted to narrow the field further by declaring that despite the qualifications of Bertrand, a chair in the History of Protestant Dogma would also duplicate the existing chair in Protestant Dogma then occupied by the president of the section, Albert Réville. Réville himself seconded this opinion.

In declaring his preference, Vernes made the curious confession that he had at first feared that Mauss was going to deal mainly with general questions and methodology.  However, Mauss had reassured him that this was not the case.[21] Vernes was clearly troubled by the penchant for theorizing for which the Durkheimians were already notorious, and Mauss had to allay those fears to gain support.  Another member of the faculty, Jules Toutain, cited a passage from Hubert and Mauss’s essay on sacrifice to assert that despite these assurances, Mauss would indeed study methodology.[22] Toutain intended this as a criticism. He proposed instead that the position be changed to Assyro-Chaldean religion, an area not then taught in the Fifth Section.

Mauss’s teacher Sylvain Lévi came to Mauss’s defense.   He argued that for several years Mauss had oriented his studies toward ethnography.  He added that Mauss had taught the religions of India to help out the Section, not because he had abandoned ethnography for Sanskrit studies.   Lévi was evidently concerned that his colleagues viewed Mauss as more of a Sanskrit scholar than an ethnographer.   He may also have wanted to remind the faculty that Mauss alone among the candidates would continue the legacy of Marillier by leaving the name of the position unchanged.   Israel Lévi (no relation to Sylvain) added that Mauss had the recommendation of two undisputed experts, the English ethnographer Sir James Frazer and the Dutch historian of religion Cornelius P. Tiele.[23] Although Mauss’s merits were great, his familiarity to the faculty clearly worked in his favor. Social connections as well as intellectual prowess helped him win the chair.   The fact that several Protestants supported his appointment also demonstrates that they did not form a monolithic voting bloc.

The next Durkheimian to be appointed to the Fifth Section was Charles Fossey (1869-1946). Unlike Mauss, he was an established scholar before he became attracted to Durkheimian sociology, and his area of expertise rather than either Durkheimian sympathies or close personal connections determined his appointment.   Fossey was trained as an Assyriologist in the Fourth Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.   However, his work focused more on the technical problems of linguistic and archaeological evidence than on interpretation, sociological or otherwise.  He participated in several expeditions to sites in the Middle East, and he published a number of manuals, dictionaries, and grammars of Assyrian languages.[24] He also published several works on Assyrian magic and divination, and these works brought him to the attention of both the Durkheimians and the other members of the Fifth Section. By 1906 Fossey could be counted as a Durkheimian, because he had contributed a review to the Année sociologique.[25]   He would be a colleague and friend of Mauss for the rest of his life.[26]   However, he only wrote one review for the journal, and his own work was more connected with philology and archaeology than with sociology.

Fossey had been mentioned as a candidate as early as 1901.   When Auguste Sabatier died, Marillier and Albert Réville proposed changing the position to Assyro-Babylonian Religions and naming Fossey to the chair.  A majority preferred the Primitive Religions of Europe, and Hubert was nominated instead.   We have just seen that Toutain proposed the creation of a chair in Assyro-Chaldean Religions when Mauss was nominated.[27] It would appear that there was widespread acknowledgment that some such position was needed.  The next opportunity to create it arose in 1906, when the Minister of Public Instruction asked the faculty of the Fifth Section if they would like funds to pay Fossey to teach Assyro-Babylonian Religion.   Since there was already support for such a position, and since the position came at no cost to anyone, the Minister’s offer was gladly accepted.[28] Fossey’s appointment, however, was less a triumph for Durkheimian sociology of religion than for unobjectionable erudition in a hitherto unrepresented field.

Only the nomination of Albert Bayet to the newly created chair in the History of Moral Ideas in 1923 represented a purely political appointment in which the faculty had essentially no voice.   Bayet was a philosopher who advocated a secular morality based loosely on the principles of sociology.[29] He wrote several reviews for the Année Sociologique and argued for the application of scientific method to the study of morals.   He was a passionate supporter of secular education.   This made him popular with the Radical Party, which considered the fundamental principles of the Third Republic to be democracy, public education, and separation of church and state.   When the faculty of the Fifth Section learned that Bayet had been nominated, they sent a delegation that included Mauss to remind the Director of Higher Education that the faculty traditionally was consulted in the designation of a new position and the nomination of a candidate. [30]  This delegation reported that the Director had informed them that the appointment was “of parliamentary interest,” meaning that forces in the National Assembly desired it.   As a result, the delegation came back empty-handed. The Director even rejected Mauss’s face-saving suggestion that title of the chair be changed to the Literary History of Moral and Religious Ideas in France.   The name remained the History of Moral Ideas, and Bayet was installed.   However, politicians promoted him because of his general views on secularism and democracy, not for any specifically Durkheimian positions.  Mauss opposed Bayet’s appointment, despite the latter’s Durkheimian sympathies, because the manner of his appointment violated the principles of academic freedom and the autonomy of science, both important to the Durkheimian quest for intellectual legitimacy.  Neither Durkheimians nor other scholars objected to Bayet as a scholar, however, and after the controversy caused by the unusual way he joined the faculty had subsided, he became an accepted member of the Section.

Although Durkheimians won several appointments, they did not win them all.   The same reasons that helped them also helped others.  Some positions went to scholars who clearly practiced or sympathized with the Protestant approach.  For example, upon the death of Albert Réville, the chair of the History of Dogmas went to his former student Paul Alphandéry (1875-1932), a medievalist who continued the psychological approach favored by his mentor.[31] Alphandéry also worked closely as co-editor of the Revue de l’histoire des religions with Jean Réville until the latter’s death in 1908, upon which Alphandéry became principal editor. Personal connections thus played a role as well.   Jean Réville’s replacement in the chair of Christian Literature was Paul Monceaux (1859-1941), who, though a Catholic, was also sympathetic to the Protestant approach to religious studies.[32]

Durkheimians had no monopoly of erudition, and many of the non-Durkheimians gained positions on the basis of expertise rather than connections.  Edouard Chavannes (1865-1918) is one example. Chavannes was trained as a Sinologist and, while not a Durkheimian, was interested in the social role of literature in traditional Chinese civilization. [33]  When the chair of Religions of the Far East and of Indian America was split in 1908, the renamed Chair of Precolumbian Religions remained in the hands of Georges Raynaud, and the Far East went to Chavannes.[34] He collaborated with Sylvain Lévi, another Durkheimian sympathizer, on studies of Buddhism in India. His approach was closer to Durkheim’s than it was to that of the Protestants, but he was appointed primarily because of his credentials in Sinology, not because of any particular methodological approach.

Succession tests the staying power of a school.   Retiring professors often sought to secure their position for a former student or protégé. The record of the Durkheimians in securing succession was mixed.   Upon the death of Henri Hubert in 1927, Mauss succeeded in having Jean Marx (1884-1974) appointed to Hubert’s position.[35] Marx was a former student of both Hubert and Mauss, and he also contributed to the Année sociologique. He would continue Hubert’s work on early European civilization and literature, both by helping with the posthumous edition of Hubert’s book on Celtic civilization and through his own work on the Arthurian legends.[36]  His appointment seems to have raised no objections from other members of the Fifth Section.[37]   However, none of the other Durkheimians—Fossey, Mauss, or Moret—were replaced by Durkheimians.   In part, this simply reflects the limitations of the criteria used for defining Durkheimians.   By the time these individuals relinquished their positions, few contributors to the original series of the Année sociologique were left to be candidates. Subtler criteria might reveal significant influences across generations.

However, the case of Mauss’s own succession, though it lies just outside the limits of this study, suggests that such refinement may yield only ambiguous results.   In 1941 Maurice Leenhardt (1878-1954) was appointed to the chair of the Religions of Uncivilized Peoples, from which Mauss had retired under the twin pressures of age and Nazi occupation.[38] Leenhardt was a student of Mauss who incorporated sociology into his ethnographic study of the indigenous peoples of Melanesia.   He was thoroughly familiar with the work of Durkheimians on religious sociology. He never contributed to the Année sociologique, so he does not count as a Durkheimian for the purposes of this study.  However, even with a more generous definition, it would be difficult to call Leenhardt a Durkheimian.   Leenhardt was a Protestant missionary with a quarter-century of field experience before he came to the Fifth Section in the early 1930s.   He was also as much a colleague as a student of Mauss, bringing a wealth of firsthand experience that Mauss lacked.   He almost immediately began teaching some of Mauss’s classes at the Fifth Section, so that by the time he replaced Mauss he was already practically the incumbent of the chair he assumed.   Most important, Leenhardt was a deeply religious individual and an independent thinker who, though indebted to Durkheim and Mauss, was also critical of many aspects of Durkheimian sociology.   His own approach was more psychological and phenomenological than that of either Durkheim or Mauss.  One may in fact characterize Leenhardt as a dynamic synthesis of the psychological and sociological methods in religious studies.

Conclusion

Mucchielli and Strenski are both partly correct in their interpretations of the relationship between Durkheimians and other scholars of religion in France.   Mucchielli is correct in asserting that there was accommodation and coexistence between the different approaches.   Non-Durkheimians respected the originality and scholarship of the Durkheimians and made a place for them in the field of religious studies, especially in those areas in which their contributions were complementary rather than threatening. Strenski is correct in claiming that there was conflict between the Durkheimians and established scholars. This occurred either when the Durkheimians attempted to encroach upon the favored terrain of the non-Durkheimians, or when either side made sweeping methodological claims that implicitly threatened the approach of the other.   The larger picture is one of both accommodation and disagreement, creating a rich diversity of approaches to religious studies at the Fifth Section.  As the case of Leenhardt suggests, succeeding generations of scholars learned from all these schools of thought, ultimately enriching their work and the field of religious studies in twentieth-century France.  


Table 1. The Composition of the Fifth Section, 1900-1938 [39]

Position[40]

1900

1938

History of the Christian Church

Jean Réville

Maurice Goguel

History of Dogma

Albert Réville

Paul Vignaux

History of Canon Law

Adhémard Esmein

Gabriel Le Bras

Christian Literature

Eugène de Faye

Henri-Charles Puech

Auguste Sabatier

---[41]

Relations of Philosophy and Theology

François Picavet

---[42]

History of Religious Ideas in Modern Europe[43]

---

Alexandre Koyré

Byzantine Christianity

Gabriel Millet

André Grabar

Religions of Israel and of Occidental Semites

Maurice Vernes

Charles Virolleaud

Talmudic and Rabbinic Judaism

Israel Lévi

Maurice Liber

Primitive Religions of Europe[44]

---

Jean Marx*

Religions of Greece and Rome

André Berthelot

---[45]

Islam and Religions of Arabia

Hartwig Derenbourg

Louis Massignon

Religions of Egypt

Emile Amélineau

Alexandre Moret*
Jean Sainte Fare Garnot[46]

Assyro-Babylonian Religion[47]

---

Jean Nougayrol

Religions of India

Sylvain Lévi
Alfred Foucher

Paul Mus
Paul Masson-Oursel

Religions of the Far East

Léon de Rosny

Marcel Granet*

Religions of Indochina[48]

---

Edouard Mestre

Religions of Pre-Columbian America[49]

Georges Raynaud

---[50]

Religions of Uncivilized Peoples

Léon Marillier

Marcel Mauss*

History of Moral Ideas[51]

---

Albert Bayet*

Comparative Mythology[52]

---

Georges Dumézil

Table 2. New appointments to the Fifth Section, 1900-1938 [53]

Date

Individual

Position[54]

1900

Feb

13

Raynaud, Georges

Religions of Pre-Columbian America[55]

1901

Jul

15

Hubert, Henri*

Primitive Religions of Europe

1901

Dec

5

Mauss, Marcel*

Religions of Uncivilized Peoples

1903

Jun

29

Toutain, Jules

Religions of Greece and Rome

1906

Dec

8

Fossey, Charles*

Assyro-Babylonian Religion

1907

Jan

4

Alphandéry, Paul

History of Doctrines and Dogma

1908

Apr

3

Chavannes, Edouard

Religions of the Far East

1908

May

15

Lacroix, Léon

History and Organization of the Catholic Church Since the Council of Trent

1908

Dec

24

Monceaux, Paul

Christian Literature and History of the Church

1909

Mar

22

Huart, Clément

Islam and Religions of Arabia

1913

Dec

3

Généstal, Robert

History of Canon Law

1913

Dec

6

Granet, Marcel*

Religions of the Far East

1918

Dec

2

Moret, Alexandre*

Religions of Egypt

1921

Dec

16

Gilson, Etienne

Relations of Philosophy and Theology

1923

Sep

11

Bayet, Albert*

History of Moral Ideas

1924

May

8

Loisy, Alfred

Religions of Israel and of Occidental Semites

1927

Jun

1

Gaudefroy-Démombynes, Maurice

Islam and Religions of Arabia

1927

Jun

1

Masson-Oursel, Paul

Religions of India

1927

Aug

23

Goguel, Maurice

Early Christianity and New Testament

1927

Aug

23

Marx, Jean*

Primitive Religions of Europe

1927

Oct

1

Liber, Maurice

Talmudic and Rabbinic Judaism

1929

Dec

30

Puech, Henri-Charles

Christian Literature and History of the Church

1931

Aug

20

Le Bras, Gabriel

History of Canon Law

1931

Dec

7

Mestre, Edouard

Religions of Indochina

1931

Dec

7

Koyré, Alexandre

History of Religious Ideas in Modern Europe

1932

Aug

18

Elisséev, Serge

History of the Religions of Japan

1933

Nov

13

Massignon, Louis

Islam and Religions of Arabia

1934

Mar

30

Vignaux, Paul

History of Doctrines and Dogma

1935

Nov

6

Dumézil, Georges

Comparative Mythology

1936

Sep

10

Virolleaud, Charles

Religions of Occidental Semites

1937

Feb

27

Mus, Paul

Religions of India

1937

Sep

10

Grabar, André

Byzantine Christianity and Christian Archaeology

1938

Nov

21

Sainte Fare Garnot, Jean

Religions of Egypt

1938

Nov

21

Nougayrol, Jean

Assyro-Babylonian Religion

 


 


Notes

[1] Paul Honigsheim, “The Influence of Durkheim and His School on the Study of Religion,” in Emile Durkheim: Critical Assessments, Second Series, Vol. 6, ed. Peter Hamilton (London: Routledge, 1995), 82-92; W. F. S. Pickering, Durkheim's Sociology of Religion: Themes and Theories (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984); N. J. Allen, W. F. S. Pickering, and W. Watts Miller, eds., On Durkheim's Elementary Forms of Religious Life (London: Routledge, 1998).   Portions of this article are adapted from John I. Brooks III, “The Durkheimians and the Fifth Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes: An Overview,” in Reappraising Durkheim for the Study and Teaching of Religion Today, ed. Thomas A. Idinopulos and Brian C. Wilson, 85-110 (Leiden: Brill, 2002).   The present study benefits from access to the archives of the Fifth Section, and the author would like to thank M. Claude Langlois, president of the Section, for his kind permission to consult the minutes of the faculty meetings.   M. Yves Fayet, Chief of the Administrative Service of the Fifth Section, and Mme. Marie-Hélène Blanchet, Librarian of the Fifth Section, helped track down these documents for me. The author would also like to thank M. Pierre Petitmengin for access to the library of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, which made possible the prosopographical research that underlies this article.   Ivan Strenski shared with me his vast knowledge of the subject and the manuscripts of his forthcoming publications.   Earlier versions of this article were presented at the annual meeting of Cheiron, the International Society for the History of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, and at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Religious Studies Association. The author benefited from comments at both of those presentations, as well as from the suggestions of the anonymous referee for the present journal.

[2] Philippe Besnard, ed., The Sociological Domain: The Durkheimians and the Founding of French Sociology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

[3]Laurent Mucchielli, “Les durkheimiens et La revue de l’histoire des religions (1896-1916): une zone d’influence méconnue,” Durkheimian Studies/Etudes durkheimiennes n.s. 4 (1998): 51-72.

[4]Ivan Strenski, “Durkheimians and Protestants in the Ecole Pratique, Fifth Section: The Dark Side,” Durkheimian Studies/Etudes durkheimiennes n.s. 6 (2000): 105-14.

[5]Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes--Ve Section, Problèmes et méthodes d'histoire des religions (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968; hereafter referred to as EPHE 1968); Jean Baubérot, Cent ans de sciences religieuses en France (Paris: Cerf, 1987).

[6] To do this, I consulted the Annuaires of the Fifth Section-- Annuaire de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Religieuses (1894-1940); hereafter referred to as the Ánnuaire).

[7] Yash Nandan, The Durkheimian School: A Systematic and Comprehensive Bibliography (New York: Greenwood Press, 1977); Philippe Besnard, “The 'Année sociologique' Team,” in The Sociological Domain, 11-39.

[8] 1927 is a glitch caused by the fact that Hubert died in that year and was replaced by another Durkheimian, Jean Marx.

[9] Durkheim’s last book would of course be The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. However, as early as 1899, he authorized the use of the rubric “Elementary Forms” in the section of the Année sociologique devoted to religious sociology.  See also Emile Durkheim, “De la définition des phénomènes religieux,” in Journal sociologique, ed. Jean Duvignaud (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1969), 140-41.   Originally published in the Année sociologique 2 (1899): 1-28.

[10] Hubert and Mauss collaborated on their first major publication—their famous “Essay on Sacrifice” (Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, “Essai sur la nature et la fonction du sacrifice,” in Mélanges d'histoire des religions, 2d ed. [Paris: Felix Alcan, 1929]).   Hubert would go on to publish several studies of Gallic and other Celtic civilization. See Henri Hubert, Les Celtes depuis l'époque de la Tène et la civilisation celtique (Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1932); idem, Les Celtes et l'expansion celtique jusqu'à l'époque de La Tène (Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1932). On Hubert, see Ivan Strenski, 'What Structural Mythology Owes to Henri Hubert,' Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 21 (1985): 354-71; idem, 'Henri Hubert, Racial Science, and Political Myth,' Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 23 (1987): 353-67.   On Mauss, see Marcel Fournier, Marcel Mauss (Paris: Fayard, 1994).

[11] Edouard Mestre, “Nécrologie: Marcel Granet (1884-1940),” Annuaire 1940-1941 et 1941-1942 (1941): 37-38; “In Memoriam,” Année sociologique, 3d series, 1 (1940-1948): xiii-xiv. Marcel Granet, Coutumes matrimoniales de la Chine antique (Paris: Leroux, 1912); idem, Fêtes et chansons anciennes de la Chine (Paris: Leroux, 1919); idem, La civilisation chinoise: la vie publique et la vie privée (Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1929); idem, La pensée chinoise (Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1934).

[12] Ivan Strenski, Durkheim and the Jews of France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 139.

[13] Ibid., 132.

[14] Ibid., 141-44.

[15]The clearest example is the essay on sacrifice, written while Hubert and Mauss were students of Lévi.

[16] Albert Réville, his son Jean, Auguste Sabatier, and Maurice Vernes. Emile Amélineau, who held the chair of Religions of Egypt, was also Protestant.   On Protestants in religious studies, see Ivan Strenski, Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism, and Social Thought in France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002); Robert Mandrou et al., Histoire des protestants en France (Toulouse: Edouard Privat, 1977).

[17] Strenski has analyzed the crypto-theological character of liberal Protestant assumptions as well as the congruence of Protestant assumptions with French republican values, which also stressed individualism and independence from binding religious hierarchies (Contesting Sacrifice, ch. 5).

[18] In the definition of Albert Réville, “Religion is the determination of human life by the sentiment of a link uniting the human spirit to the mysterious spirit of which he recognizes the domination over the world and over himself and to which he loves to feel himself united.” Albert Réville, Histoire des religions, vol. 1: Les religions des peuples non-civilisés (Paris: G. Fischbacher, 1883), 34.

[19] Fournier, Marcel Mauss, 180.  

[20] Séance du 1er décembre 1901, Procès verbaux du Conseil de l’Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Vème Section, Paris, 275.

[21] Ibid, 277.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Sir James Frazer, best known for The Golden Bough, was the most respected of the English school of ethnographers, which commanded great respect in France. Tiele was acknowledged as one of the foremost historians of religion and was especially respected by the Protestant faculty of the Fifth Section. Mauss had introduced himself to Tiele on a study trip to England and the Netherlands in 1898 (Wendy James, “’One of Us’: Marcel Mauss and ‘English’ Anthropology,” in Marcel Mauss: A Centenary Tribute, ed. N. J. Allen [New York: Berghahn Books, 1998], 1-2).

[24] Charles Fossey, La magie assyrienne: étude suivie de textes magiques (Paris: Felix Alcan, 1902); idem, L'assyriologie de 1903 à 1907 (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1909); idem, Manuel d'assyriologie: fouilles, écriture, langues, littérature, géographie, histoire, religion, institutions, art (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1904); idem, Textes assyriens et babyloniens relatifs à la divination (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1905).

[25] Charles Fossey, review of The Babylonian and the Hebrew Genesis, by H. Zimmern, Année sociologique 6 (1903): 264-66.

[26] See for example the letter from Fossey to Mauss dated 6 November 1944, in Fournier, Marcel Mauss, 752   n. 7.

[27] Séance du 1er décembre 1901, Procès verbaux, 277; Séance du 9 juin 1901, Procès verbaux, 257.

[28] Séance du 14 octobre 1906, Procès verbaux, 366-67.   The only concern expressed by the faculty was the fact that Fossey was being offered 1000 francs rather than the 2000 such positions normally carried.   It was explained that Fossey was offered less because he held a concurrent position at the Collège de France.   The faculty made sure this reduction did not set a precedent for future appointments.

[29] On Bayet, see Vladimir Yankélevitch, “Discours prononcé aux obsèques d'Albert Bayet, 29 juin 1960,” Les amis d’Albert Bayet (Paris: Imprimerie Tari, 1961).

[30] Séance du 18 avril 1923, Procès verbaux, 708-09; séance du 2 mai 1923, Procès verbaux, 711-12; séance du 31 octobre 1923, Procès verbaux, 716-17.

[31]On Alphandéry, see the obituary notices in the Revue de l’histoire des religions 105 (1932), 139-57.

[32] Christophe Charle, Les professeurs du Collège de France: Dictionnaire biographique, 1901-1939 (Paris: Institut National de Recherche Pédagogique, CNRS, 1988), 182-83.   Fournier, Marcel Mauss, 183-85.

[33] Paul Alphandery, “In Memoriam--Edouard Chavannes,”   Revue de l'histoire des religions 79 (1919): 368-71.

[34] Séance du 8 mars 1908, Procès verbaux, 406-07.

[35] Fournier, Marcel Mauss, 544 n. 4.

[36] Henri Hubert, Les Celtes et l'expansion celtique jusqu'à l'époque de La Tène (Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1932); idem, Les Celtes depuis l'époque de la Tène et la civilisation celtique (Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1932); Jean Marx, La légende arthurienne et le Graal (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1952); idem, Les littératures celtiques (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1949); idem, Nouvelles recherches sur la littérature arthurienne (Paris: C. Klincksieck, 1965).

[37] Séance du 3 juillet 1927, Procès verbaux, 772.

[38] Fournier, Marcel Mauss, 728-29.   Mauss, like Durkheim, was Jewish, though non-practicing.   On Leenhardt, see James Clifford, Person and Myth: Maurice Leenhardt in the Melanesian World (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982).

[39] Source: EPHE 1968.

[40] Name of position at time of creation, unless otherwise noted. Positions often changed names over time. Minor changes are ignored. If the position did not exist in 1900, the year of creation is indicated in parentheses.

[41] Vacant 1934-1943.

[42] Consolidated into History of Dogma in 1932.

[43] Created in 1931.

[44] Created in 1901.

[45] Vacant 1934-1943.

[46] Moret died in 1938 and was replaced by Sainte Fare Garnot.

[47] Created in 1906.

[48] Created in 1931.

[49] Originally part of Religions of the Far East.  Raynaud was appointed as an adjunct of de Rosny in 1894, and the position became autonomous in 1908.

[50] Vacant 1934-1954.

[51] Created in 1923.

[52] Created in 1935.

[53] Source: EPHE 1968.

[54] Name at time of creation, unless otherwise noted.  Names may vary somewhat from positions in Table 1 because of name changes over time.

[55] See Table 1, note 49.

* Durkheimian.


Works Cited


Introduction | Trends | Elective Affinities | Case Studies | Conclusion | Tables | Charts | Notes | Works Cited