Anthropology - Anthropological Traditions - France - Claude Lévi-Strauss

Claude Lévi-Strauss

Above all, Claude Lévi-Strauss helped institutionalize anthropology in France. Along with the enormous influence that his theory of structuralism exerted across multiple disciplines, Lévi-Strauss established ties with American and British anthropologists. At the same time, he established centers and laboratories within France to provide an institutional context within anthropology, while training influential students such as Maurice Godelier and Françoise Héritier. They proved influential in the world of French anthropology. Much of the distinct character of France's anthropology today is a result of the fact that most anthropology is carried out in nationally funded research laboratories (CNRS) rather than academic departments in universities

Other influential writers in the 1970s include Pierre Clastres, who explains in his books on the Guayaki tribe in Paraguay that "primitive societies" actively oppose the institution of the state. These stateless societies are not less evolved than societies with states, but chose to conjure the institution of authority as a separate function from society. The leader is only a spokesperson for the group when it has to deal with other groups ("international relations") but has no inside authority, and may be violently removed if he attempts to abuse this position.

The most important French social theorist since Foucault and Lévi-Strauss is Pierre Bourdieu, who trained formally in philosophy and sociology and eventually held the Chair of Sociology at the Collège de France. Like Mauss and others before him, he worked on topics both in sociology and anthropology. His fieldwork among the Kabyle of Algeria places him solidly in anthropology, while his analysis of the function and reproduction of fashion and cultural capital in European societies places him as solidly in sociology.

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Famous quotes by claude lévi-strauss:

    No contact with savage Indian tribes has ever daunted me more than the morning I spent with an old lady swathed in woolies who compared herself to a rotten herring encased in a block of ice.
    Claude Lévi-Strauss (b. 1908)

    The only phenomenon with which writing has always been concomitant is the creation of cities and empires, that is the integration of large numbers of individuals into a political system, and their grading into castes or classes.... It seems to have favored the exploitation of human beings rather than their enlightenment.
    Claude Lévi-Strauss (b. 1908)