Journal of Southeast Asian Studies


French Missionary Expansion in Colonial Upper Tonkin 1

Jean Michaud a1
a1 The Université de Montréal in Montréal, Canada. e-mail:

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This article examines the circumstances and logic of French Catholic missionary expansion in Upper Tonkin. It explores how, over a few decades, the missionary push in the mountainous outskirts of the Red River Delta was conceived, how it unfolded, and how it came to a standstill in the 1920s before its decline towards the final exit of the French in the late 1940s.


1 The research on which this article is based has been made possible thanks to the financial support of the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom (2000–2), the British Academy (1999–2001), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (1998–2001). My gratitude is extended to the anonymous JSEAS referees who contributed very helpful remarks to the first draft of this article, as well as to Oscar Salemink for stimulating conversations relating to colonial ethnography and Indochina.