Maurice Delafosse

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Maurice Delafosse

Maurice Delafosse (December 20, 1870 – November 13, 1926) was a French ethnographer and colonial official who also worked in the field of the languages of Africa. In a review of his daughter's biography of him he was described as "one of the most outstanding French colonial administrators and ethnologists of his time."[1] Delafosse had disagreements with the French government over the administration of French Africa, and, as a result, was "more or less banned from the colonies" for a large part of his life.[2]

Fragment of Delafosse's (1904) linguistic map highlighting Nafaanra ('Nafana') in the borderland of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.

Delafosse was born December 20, 1870 in the village of Sancergues in central France. He was the son of René Françoise Célestin Delafosse and Elise Marie Bidault. He had five siblings.

Delafosse is known for his contributions to West African history and African languages. He began his study of Arabic in 1890 at the École des langues orientales with the renowned orientalist, Octave Houdas. He traveled to Algeria in 1891 with the Frères armés du Sahara, a Catholic organization concerned with combating the Trans-Saharan slave trade. Shortly afterwards, he spent one year in the French military as a zouave, second class, before returning to his formal studies at the École de langues orientales. After receiving his diploma, he was appointed as an assistant to Indigenous Affairs in the new French colony of Côte d'Ivoire.[3]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ Cohen, William B. (1978), "Review of: Maurice Delafosse, le Berrichon Conquis par l'Afrique by Louise Delafosse, Paris: Société Française d'Histoire d'Outre-Mer", International Journal of African Historical Studies, 11 (2): 302–305, JSTOR 217447 .
  2. ^ Arnaut, Karel (2000), "Review of: Amselle, Jean-Loup & Sibeud, Emmanuelle, eds. — Maurice Delafosse. Entre orientalisme et ethnographie : l’itinéraire d’un africaniste (1870-1926). Paris, Maisonneuve & Larose, 1998", Cahiers d'Études africaines, 157: 141–143 .
  3. ^ Delafosse, Louise (1976), Maurice Delafosse: le Berrichon conquis par l'Afrique (in French), Paris: Société Française d'Histoire d'Outre-mer, ISBN 2-85970-000-5 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]