Claude Levi-Strauss

Lévi-Strauss, Claude

Claude Lévi-Strauss (klōd lā´vē-strous), 1908–2009, French anthropologist, b. Brussels, Belgium, Ph.D Univ. of Paris, 1948. He carried out research in Brazil from 1935 to 1939. From 1942 to 1945 he taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City, and during this period met and was influenced by Franz Boas and Roman Jakobson. In 1948 he was appointed professor at the Institut d'Ethnologie, Univ. of Paris, and research associate at the National Science Research Fund, Paris. After 1959 he was professor of anthropology at the Collège de France. He was elected to the French Academy in 1973.

One of France's foremost 20th-century thinkers, he revolutionized the study of anthropology, changing the Western world's understanding of civilization and culture. Influenced by developments in linguistics (see structuralism), he founded structural anthropology, a theory that views culture as a system united by reason in which common structures underlie the activities of all societies despite their apparent differences. Analyzing the structure of myths in various cultures, he found universal patterns of thought, behavior, motifs, and structures across the spectrum of human societies. Lévi-Strauss also revealed the intelligence, subtlety, and sophistication of so-called "primitive" societies while refusing to romanticize tribal culture. He noted the disappearance of many of the world's tribal cultures and languages, and warned of the dangers of a modern Western "monoculture." His views greatly influenced such French thinkers as Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault.

His memoir, Tristes Tropiques (1955, tr. 1961), was both a critical and popular success. His other works include his first book, The Elementary Structures of Kinship (1949, tr. 1969), which established his scholarly reputation, and such volumes as Race and History (1952), The Savage Mind (1962, tr. 1966), Totemism (1962, tr. 1964), Structural Anthropology, (2 vol., 1958–73, tr. 1963–76), The View from Afar (1983, tr. 1985), The Jealous Potter (1985, tr. 1988), and The Story of Lynx (1991, tr. 1995). Mythologiques, often hailed as his masterpiece, is a structural analysis of native mythology in the Americas and consists of The Raw and the Cooked (1964, tr. 1969), From Honey to Ashes (1967, tr. 1973), The Origin of Table Manners (1968, tr. 1978), and The Naked Man (1971, tr. 1981).

See D. Eribon, Conversations with Claude Lévi-Strauss (1991); intellectual biography by P. Wilcken (2010); studies by E. N. Hayes, ed. (1970), E. R. Leach (1970), O. Paz (tr. 1970), H. Gardner (1972), C. Geertz (1988), and B. Wiseman (2007); B. Wiseman, ed., Cambridge Companion to Lévi-Strauss (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Claude Levi-Strauss: Selected full-text books and articles

Structural Anthropology
Claude Levi Strauss; Claire Jacobson; Brooke Grundfest Schoepf.
Basic Books, 1963
Myth and Meaning
Claude Lévi-Strauss.
Routledge, 2001
The Savage Mind: (La Pensee Sauvage)
Claude Lévi-Strauss.
Oxford University Press, 1996
Look, Listen, Read
Claude Lévi-Strauss; Brian C. J. Singer.
Basic Books, 1997
Lévi-Strauss: Structuralism and Sociological Theory
C. R. Badcock.
Holmes & Meier, 1976
Claude Levi-Strauss: Social Psychotherapy and the Collective Unconscious
Thomas Shalvey.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1979
Beyond the Enlightenment: Lives and Thoughts of Social Theorists
Roger A. Salerno.
Praeger, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 20 "Claude Levi-Strauss: Structural Anthropology"
Modern European Criticism and Theory: A Critical Guide
Julian Wolfreys.
Edinburgh University Press, 2006
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 29 "Claude Levi-Strauss (1908-)"
Philosophies of Social Science: The Classic and Contemporary Readings
Gerard Delanty; Piet Strydom.
Open University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 29 "Structural Analysis in Linguistics and in Anthropology (1958) by Claude Levi-Strauss"
Culture and Critique: An Introduction to the Critical Discourses of Cultural Studies
Jere Paul Surber.
Westview Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "The Extension of Structural Analysis: Levi-Strauss" begins on p. 170
The Study of Culture
L. L. Langness.
Chandler & Sharp, 1987 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Structuralism" begins on p. 140
A Levi-Straussian Controversy Revisited: The Implicit Mythology of Rituals in a Mesoamerican Context
Galinier, Jacques.
Journal of the Southwest, Vol. 46, No. 4, Winter 2004
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Levi-Strauss: The Writing Lesson Revisited
Johnson, Christopher.
The Modern Language Review, Vol. 92, No. 3, July 1997
Call to Order
Crow, Thomas; Taussig, Michael; Lotringer, Sylvere.
Artforum International, Vol. 48, No. 8, April 2010
Race, History and Culture. (Ethics - March 1996)
Levi-Strauss, Claude.
UNESCO Courier, December 2001
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.