Michel de Certeau Biography

Michel de Certeau (Chambéry, 17 May 1925 – Paris, 9 January 1986) was a French Jesuit and scholar whose work combined history, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and the social sciences.

Michel de Certeau was born in 1925 in Chambéry, Savoie. Certeau's education was eclectic, following the medieval tradition of peregrinatio academica. After obtaining degrees in classics and philosophy at the universities of Grenoble, Lyon, he studied the works of Pierre Favre (1506-1546) at the École pratique des hautes études (Paris) with Jean Orcibal. He undertook religious training at a seminary in Lyon, where he entered the Jesuit order (Society of Jesus) in 1950 and was ordained in 1956. Certeau entered the Society of Jesus hoping to do missionary work in China. In the year of his ordination, Certeau became one of the founders of the journal Christus, with which he would actively be involved for much of his life. In 1960 he earned his doctorate ("thèse de 3e Cycle") at the Sorbonne with a study of co-founder of the Society of Jesus Pierre Favre (the Sorbonne is a secular state university where theology may not be taught) before embarking on his celebrated study of Jean-Joseph Surin.