The papers collected here stretch over a dozen years of research and publication and are representative of my intellectual evolution during that period. In a sense they are milestones (or perhaps better pebbles) in a scholarly biography, and I decided therefore to let them stand or fall as they were originally published without the benefit of a "face-lifting" job to make the earlier ones conform more closely to my present position. Since, however, most readers will presumably be more interested in the substantive content of the articles than in the evolution of my thinking, the pieces have been arranged geographically and topically rather than chronologically. Let me simply state that, although I would not repudiate any of the main arguments contained in the following essays, some of my earlier functionalist formulations (particularly in the pre-1963 pieces) seem a bit naïve in retrospect. This is perhaps most evident in my treatment of the "paternalistic" type of race relations.
Believing as I do that scholarship is intimately linked with one's life experiences, I am taking this opportunity to indulge in a bit of autobiography. My earliest recollection of ethnic problems goes back to my primary-school days in Brussels. Since my mother tongue was French, I went to a French medium school in Belgium's bilingual capital. My mother is Parisian, and my father, although born in Ghent in the Flemish part of the country, comes from a family which had become francophone one or two generations before his. This accounts for the ambiguity between my French first name and my Flemish surname, although my case is by no means exceptional in Belgium.