Claude Levi-Strauss (b. 1908)

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LEVI-STRAUSS, Claude), structuralism anthropologist. Levi-Strauss was born in Brussels and studied at the University of Paris. From 1935-9 he was professor at the University of Sao Paulo making several expeditions to central Brazil - from where much of the material for his classic Tristes Tropiques was garnered. Tristes Tropiques is a classical journey of discovery, a quest for the past and for the realization of self... It is a work of anthropology, grandly speculative and imaginative... a work of science, history, and a rational prose poetry, springing out of the multifariousness of the landscape. From 1942-5 he was professor at the New School for Social Research. In 1950 he became Director of Studies at the Ecole Practicum des Hautes Etudes. In 1959 Levi-Strauss assumed the Chair of Social Anthropology at the College de France. His books include The Raw and the Cooked, The Savage Mind, Structural Anthropology and Totemism.

Kinship relations are the basic structure of the society

Strauss argued that kinship relations which are fundamental aspects of any cultural organizations represent a specific kind of structure.


*rejected history and humanism.

*His refusal to see Western civilization, as privileged and unique.

*His emphasis on form over content, and in his insistence, that the savage mind is EQUAL to the CIVILIZED mind.

E.g.. Daniels Defoe's novel "Robinson Crusoe"

Robinson Crusoe = Friday

(Civilized) = (Savage)

The Structural study of Myth

*Strauss' theories about myth had considerable influence in the development of the theory of narratology which is a further aspect of structuralism. He is also known for his analysis of mythology. He was interested in explaining Why myths from different cultures from around the globe seem so similar? He answers this question not by the content of myths, but by their structure.

*Strauss insisted that myth is a...