Malaurie, Jean Leonard 1922-
MALAURIE, Jean Leonard 1922-
PERSONAL: Born December 22, 1922, in Mainz, Germany; son of Albert and Isabelle (Regnault) Malaurie; married Monique Laporte, December 27, 1951; children: Guillaume, Eleonore. Education: Attended Lycée Condorcet; University of Paris, D.Lett.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Centre d'Etudes Arctiques, 105 Boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris, France.
CAREER: Centre Nacionale Recherche Scientifique, attaché then research fellow, 1948-56; École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Sorbonne, Paris, professor of Arctic geomorphology and anthropogeography, 1957-79, 1982—; Centre for Arctic Studies, founder and director, 1957-92, director of arctic research, 1979-91, director emeritus, 1992—. Fondation Française d'Etudes Nordiques, president, 1964-75; Societé Arctique Française, 1980-91; Committee for the Defense of Arctic Minorities in Russia, chair. "Terre Humaine" (anthropological book series), founder and director, 1955-92; Inter-Nord (international journal of Arctic studies), founder, 1961. Special advisor to director-general of UNESCO on problems of traditional ethnic groups, 1995; chair and organizer of international Arctic conferences and seminars; led thirteen Arctic scientific expeditions.
MEMBER: State Polar Academy (St. Petersburg, Russia; president, 1994—), Foundation for Culture (Moscow, Russia), Academy of Human Sciences of Russia, 1997, Academie de Rouen.
AWARDS, HONORS: Award of Academie Française, 1968; Polar Medals, Societé de Geographie, 1953, 1961; Academie des Sciences award, 1967; gold medal Societé Arctique Française, 1990; medal from Centre Nacionale Recherche Scientifique, 1992; Honorary Dean, Northern People's State University Herzen, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1992; gold medal, Societé de Geographie, 1996; Officier Legion d'Honneur; Ordre National du Merite in Arts and Lettres.
(With Genevieve Rouch) Hoggar, Touaregs, Derniers Seigneurs, Nathan (Paris, France),1954.
Les derniers rois de Thule, Plon (Paris, France), 1955, translation by Gwendolen Freeman published as The Last Kings of Thule: A Year among the Polar Eskimos of Greenland, Crowell (New York, NY), 1956, translation by Adrienne Foulke published as The Last Kings of Thule: With the Polar Eskimos as They Face Their Destiny, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1982.
Themes de recherche geomorphologique dans le Nord-Ouest du Groenland, Centre de Recherches et Documentation Cartographiques et Geographique (Paris, France), 1968.
Ultima Thule, Bordas (Paris, France), 1990.
Hummocks: relief de memoire,Plon (Paris, France), 1999.
Call of the North: An Explorer's Journey to the Pole, translated by Molly Stevens, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Noted French anthropogeographer Jean Malaurie was born in Mainz, Germany on December 22, 1922. He completed his formal education in France, achieving the degree of D.Lett. from the University of Paris. He began his career as a geographer. Malaurie's early contact with Emmanuel de Martonne, a luminary in the field of geography, led him to the intense study of the weathering process on stones. Much of his earliest work was done in the Arctic region, studying the Archaean platform. Malaurie worked on a glaciological expedition in 1948 and 1949, concentrating on the area around Disko Bay in western Greenland. In 1951 he traveled by dogsled to reach magnetic north and was the first French man to do so. For more than fifty years Malaurie has studied the people and landscape of the Arctic regions in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, and has become, in the course of his career, a strong advocate of these regions.
His initial fascination with stones and landscape led Malaurie to study the Arctic. As he became more deeply involved in his geographical research he developed a concept of balance in nature. He proposes that balance is the fundamental condition of nature and is the result of a series of compromises among elements of the environment. In an interview in UNESCO Courier he explained the concept of balance upon which survival depends. By carefully measuring different aspects of the landscape, such as rock formations, he found that the most minute variation in the environment disrupts ecological balance. A new set of compromises among all the elements had to develop in order for equilibrium to be restored. Malaurie's many years living among the Inuit led him to study Inuit social structure as closely as he had studied the physical environment. As Malaurie spent more and more time with the Inuit, he discovered that they had constructed for themselves a complex, classless society where wealth, property and land are owned by the group. Built into the Inuit social structure are defenses against possessiveness; companions are regularly exchanged, and children are raised by the group rather than by ouples.
Malaurie's continued involvement with the Inuit has allowed him to document and evaluate the stunning changes that have taken place as a result of their contact with contemporary industrial society. Because of his long study of the effects of disruption in the ecosystem, he has taken this understanding from the natural world and applied it to societies. He takes the position that social science has not properly credited the ability of the individual to effect social change. Malaurie has made it his task to develop structures within societies that will lead to the establishment of a new balance rather than social destruction. To this end, he was able to establish a rapport with various offices in the Russian government, including the Ministry of Education, and establish the Polar Academy in St. Petersburg. Malaurie contends that indigenous people are being offered all of the comforts of industrialized society and kept in ignorance of the price, which is the loss of culture, language, religion and identity. Individuals trained by the Polar Academy will help their communities consider fully the results of proposed changes, accepting or rejecting them by their own decision and at their pace. Thus the communities will have the opportunity to adapt and survive through conscious decision making, rather than suffer inevitable destruction. Malaurie argues that this approach is not only a reasonable and respectful way to approach these people, but that it also serves the long term interests of the developed world.
Malaurie's best-known work in English, The Last Kings of Thule: With the Polar Eskimos as They Face Their Destiny, is part of the "Terre Humaine" series. The book charts the author's experiences in Greenland during two expeditions, from 1950 to 1951, and in 1972. Included are vivid accounts of a solitary week in an igloo, dangerous travel over glaciers, and sensitive observations of Inuit social and cultural life. A writer for Kirkus Reviews described the book as "insightful intimacy with a mysterious, heroic people; a telling demonstratioin of capitalist 'dispossession . . . of a marginal people'; compelling adventure that only the Arctic can offer: plus pictures—a significant document with immense appeal."
The book's account of Malaurie's 1972 trip reveals the drastic changes in Inuit life that resulted from contact with modern industrial culture. The catalyst for this change was the construction of a U.S.Air Force base outside of Thule. The devastating effects on the Inuit of this cultural collision led to a 1973 all-Arctic conference organized by Malaurie to help the Inuit participants find their way in an altered world. The Last Kings of Thule received outstanding reviews and has been cited as an important document in Arctic studies.
Themes de recherche geomorphologique dans le nordouest du Groenland is a distinctly scientific work, composed of four sections or "books", the focus of which is the geomorphology of northwest Greenland. The first section describes, in detail, the "microphysics of freezing and the subsequent fracture of rock." This charting of the freeze/thaw phenomena is considered noteworthy for the amount of data covering ice crystallography, and the effects of changes in pressure and temperature. The second "book" is a morphological study of the areas of Greenland called Inglefield Land and Washington Land. The work is fortified by maps, block diagrams, and sketches of the area. The topographical descriptions are centered mainly on the preglacial formations. Talus slopes and screes are the subject of the third "book", and Malaurie has extensively charted their origins and morphology. The fourth and final section of this work is devoted to the effects of erosion on Disko Island and sandy deposits in the hilly area. Themes de recherche geomorphologique dans le nordouest du Groenland is the result of more than ten years of research combining measurement and observation. The author emphasized the multitude of processes that contribute to the making and transformation of an environment. This work represents a move away from the old style of geomorphologic studies that was primarily an inventory of the features of the land, and toward a more complete understanding of the dynamic process that create and transform.
In Call of the North: An Explorer's Journey to the North Pole Malaurie offers, in both text and photographs, the wealth of his high Arctic experience accumulated on his thirty-one expeditions, dating from 1948 to 1997. The beauty and rigors of the landscape are conveyed through more than 300 color photographs. Library Journal reviewer John Kenny praised the volume as an "exceptionally beautiful book." In Choice, P. D. Thomas observed that "few volumes . . . can even come close to equaling the beauty and interest of the color photographs gracing this work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Anthropologist, June, 1998, Bruce Jackson, "In the Arctic with Malaurie," pp. 275-283.
Choice, March, 2002, P.D. Thomas, review of Call of the North: An Explorer's Journey to the North Pole, p. 1268.
Geographical Journal, 1970, F. George, review of Themes de recherche geomorphologique dans le nordoeust du Groenland, p. 286.
Il Polo, October, 1999, Bruce Jackson, "The Ethnographic Voice," pp. 139-140.
Kirkus, June 1, 1982, review of The Last Kings of Thule: With the Polar People as They Face Their Destiny, p. 665.
Library Journal, April 1, 2002, John Kenny, review of Call of the North, p. 118.
Time, October 25, 1982, R. Z. Sheppard, review of The Last Kings of Thule, p. 80.
UNESCO Courier, April, 1994, Bahgat Elnadi and Adel Rifaat, "The Arctic, from Stones to Man," p. 4.
Washington Post Book World, December 15, 1985, review of The Last Kings of Thule, p. 12.*
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