Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Claude Levi-Strauss, RIP

Claude Levi-Strauss, a French cultural anthropologist, died earlier this week at the age of 100. He was a giant in cultural anthropology and was much in the mode of the stereotypical French intellectual. He was one of the founders of Structuralism, and did much to show that the sophistication and elaboration of the mythologies and religions of even the most "primitive" of societies, shows that all of us have similar intellectual abilities.

I remember reading his Tristes Tropiques my freshman year for the introduction to cultural anthropology class. I must admit it was a bit too subtle and theoretical for my 18 year-old brain to really grasp. My main take-away was his assertion that myths use human beings to reproduce themselves.

His work was so long ago and he lived so long, he really seems to belong to another age. Seeing his obituary was like picking up the paper and reading of the recent death of Franz Boas or Alfred Kroeber.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I had no idea this guy was still around(so recently!). I studied his stuff lo, those many years ago as an Anthropology major, and it was considered old then!...L.B.