Maurice Halbwachs  

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Maurice Halbwachs (11 March 1877 - 16 March 1945) was a French philosopher and sociologist known for developing the concept of collective memory.

Born in Reims, Halbwachs attended the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. There he studied philosophy with Henri Bergson, who influenced him greatly. He agregated in Philosophy in 1901. He taught at various lycées before traveling to Germany in 1904, where he studied at the University of Göttingen and worked on cataloging Leibniz's papers. He was nominated to co-edit an edition of Leibniz's work which never came to fruition. He returned to France in 1905 where he met Émile Durkheim and became interested in sociology. He soon joined the editorial board of L'Année Sociologique, where he worked with François Simiand editing the Economics and Statistics section. In 1909 he returned to Germany to study Marxism and economics in Berlin.

Throughout World War I, Halbwachs worked at the War Ministry. Shortly after the end of the war, he became professor of sociology and pedagogy at the University of Strasbourg. He remained in this position for over a decade, taking leave for a year as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, when he was called to the Sorbonne in 1935. There he taught sociology and worked closely with Marcel Mauss and served as the editor of Annales de Sociologie, the successor journal to L'Année Sociologique. In 1944 he received one of France's highest honors, a chair at the Collège de France in Social Psychology. A longtime socialist, Halbwachs was detained by the Gestapo after the Nazi occupation of Paris and deported to Buchenwald, where he died of dysentery in 1945.

Part of his books were offered by his widow to the library of the Centre d'études sociologiques and are now held at the Human and Social Sciences Library Paris Descartes-CNRS.



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