Jean-Claude Gardin


Honorary Degree (1993)
Doctor of Science
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich


After nearly four decades of scholarly work, Jean-Claude Gardin has achieved international eminence in three distinct fields. He is an outstanding archaeologist and historian of Central Asia; he has made great contributions to cognitive sciences, including semiotic studies; and he has been a pioneer in the application of computer and information science to the social sciences.

Born in Paris in 1925, Jean-Claude Gardin interrupted his studies in 1940 to join the Free French Navy in England. He served with distinction and at the end of the war was awarded the Legion d'Honneur (a titre militaire), the Croix du Guerre, and the Medaille de la Resistance. He then enrolled at the University of London and in 1948 received a B.Sc. with honors in economics.

In the late 1940s Jean-Claude Gardin studied at the Sorbonne. There he introduced automatic methods of information management, such as sorters and early computers, to Claude Levi-Strauss and other social science researchers. At the same time he received a diploma in Persian, adding this language to the many he speaks and reads fluently. His archaeological work in the 1950s led him to examine theoretical and methodological approaches to archaeology, which resulted in a number of epistemological articles. From this has come his interest in the cognitive sciences, in particular semiotics.

Professor Gardin's publications reflect his varied interests. He is the author of several books, including Ceramiques de Bactres, Une archeologie theoretique, and Archaeological Constructs: An Aspect of Theoretical Archaeology. He is the coauthor of a concordance of the Koran, and the author or coauthor of more than forty articles on archaeology and over thirty articles concerning information science and cognitive studies.

For most of his scholarly career Professor Gardin has maintained ties with Indiana University. In the field of archaeology he has been associated with the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology; in the field of cognitive science he has had a long association with the Research Center for Language and Semiotic Studies; and in the area of information science he was the Wrubel Lecturer in the Office of University Computing during his tenure as a 1991 Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Study. Professor Gardin served as director of the UNESCO committee that produced the General Information Program (UNISIST) for the sharing of scientific knowledge. He is director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, director of studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and was the 1989 winner of the Prix International de la Fondation Fyssen in cognitive studies. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bern in 1987.