Edmund Leach University of Chicago Press, 1989 Library of Congress GN21.L4L4 1989 | Dewey Decimal 301.092
In this lucide guide to the often abstruse works of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Edmund Leach synthesizes the thought of one of the twentieth century's greatest anthropologists and provides a thoughtful introduction to the theory and practice of structuralism. Leach organizes his work not by chronology but by theme, exploring three important topics in Lévi-Strauss's work: human beings and their symbols, the structure of myth, and kinship theory. Written concisely and with great care and penetration, this brief book is both a fine introduction for the uninitiated reader of Lévi-Strauss and a critical analysis that will prove valuable to those more familiar with the anthropologist's work.
At the age of eighty, one of the most influential yet reclusive intellectuals of the twentieth century consented to his first interviews in nearly thirty years. Hailed by Le Figaro as "an event," the resulting conversations between Claude Lévi-Strauss and Didier Eribon (a correspondent for Le Nouvel Observateur) reveal the great anthropologist speaking of his life and work with ease and humor.
Now available in English, the conversations are rich in Lévi-Strauss's candid appraisals of some of the best-known figures of the Parisian intelligentsia: surrealists André Breton and Max Ernst, with whom Lévi-Strauss shared a bohemian life in 1940s Manhattan; de Beauvoir, Sartre, and Camus, the stars of existentialism; Leiris, Foucault, Dumézil, Jacob, Lacan, and others. His long friendships with Jakobson and Merleau-Ponty are recalled, as well as his encounters with prominent figures in American anthropology: Lowie, Boas (who suddenly died in his chair beside Lévi-Strauss at a banquet at Columbia University), Benedict, Linton, Mead, and Kroeber.
Lévi-Strauss speaks frankly about how circumstances and his own inclinations, after his early fieldwork in Brazil, led him to embrace theoretical work. His straightforward answers to Eribon's penetrating questions—What is a myth? What is structuralism? Are you a philosopher?—clarify his intellectual motives and the development of his research; his influential role as an administrator, including the founding of the Laboratory of Social Anthropology and of the journal L'Homme; the course of his writings, from Elementary Structures of Kinship to The Jealous Potter; and his thoughts on the conduct of anthropology today.
Never before has Lévi-Strauss spoken so freely on so many aspects of his life: his initial failure to be elected to the Collège de France; his reaction to the events of May 1968; his regrets at not being a great investigative reporter or playwright; his deep identification with Wagner, Proust, and Rousseau. This is a rare opportunity to become acquainted with a great thinker in all his dimensions.
Culture and Enchantment
Mark A. Schneider University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress GN357.S36 1993 | Dewey Decimal 306.01
Max Weber viewed modern life as disenchanted, an arena from which scientific inquiry had banished magic. In contrast, Mark Schneider argues intriguingly that enchantment—the sense that we are confronted by inexplicable phenomena—persists in the world today, although it has shifted from the natural to the cultural arena. Culture and Enchantment shows that students of culture today operate in social and intellectual circumstances similar to those of seventeenth-century natural philosophers. Just as Newton was drawn to alchemy, scholars today are fascinated by ghostly and mercurial agents thought to account for the meanings of cultural entities.
For interpretive disciplines, Schneider suggests, meaning often behaves behaves as mysteriously as the apparitions pursued by centuries ago by natural philosophers. He demonstrates this using two case studies from anthropology: Clifford Geertz's description of Balinese cockfights and Yoruba statuary, and Claude Levi-Strauss's analyses of myths. These provide a basis for actively engaging disputes over the meaning and interpretation of culture.
Culture and Enchantment will appeal to an interdisciplinary audience in anthropology, sociology, history, history and sociology of science, culture studies, and literary theory. Schneider's provocative arguments will make this book a fulcrum in the continuing debate over the nature and prospects of cultural inquiry.
"The main thrust of this book is to deliver a major critique of materialist and rationalist explanations of social and cultural forms, but the in the process Sahlins has given us a much stronger statement of the centrality of symbols in human affairs than have many of our 'practicing' symbolic anthropologists. He demonstrates that symbols enter all phases of social life: those which we tend to regard as strictly pragmatic, or based on concerns with material need or advantage, as well as those which we tend to view as purely symbolic, such as ideology, ritual, myth, moral codes, and the like. . . ."—Robert McKinley, Reviews in Anthropology
From his groundbreaking Violence and the Sacred and Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World, René Girard’s mimetic theory is presented as elucidating “the origins of culture.” He posits that archaic religion (or “the sacred”), particularly in its dynamics of sacrifice and ritual, is a neglected and major key to unlocking the enigma of “how we became human.” French philosopher of science Michel Serres states that Girard’s theory provides a Darwinian theory of culture because it “proposes a dynamic, shows an evolution and gives a universal explanation.” This major claim has, however, remained underscrutinized by scholars working on Girard’s theory, and it is mostly overlooked within the natural and social sciences. Joining disciplinary worlds, this book aims to explore this ambitious claim, invoking viewpoints as diverse as evolutionary culture theory, cultural anthropology, archaeology, cognitive psychology, ethology, and philosophy. The contributors provide major evidence in favor of Girard’s hypothesis. Equally, Girard’s theory is presented as having the potential to become for the human and social sciences something akin to the integrating framework that present-day biological science owes to Darwin—something compatible with it and complementary to it in accounting for the still remarkably little understood phenomenon of human emergence.
"Lévi-Strauss is a French savant par excellence, a man of extraordinary sensitivity and human wisdom . . . a deliberate stylist with profound convictions and convincing arguments. . . . [The Raw and the Cooked] adds yet another chapter to the tireless quest for a scientifically accurate, esthetically viable, and philosophically relevant cultural anthropology. . . . [It is] indispensable reading."—Natural History
The eighteen essays collected in this volume have been selected and ordered to give what Lévi-Strauss terms "a bird's-eye view of the problems of modern ethnology." As representative examples, these essays introduce readers to the methods of structural anthropology while affording a glimpse into the mind of one of the foremost anthropologists of our time.
"Structural Anthropology, Volume II is a diverse collection. [It is] a useful 'sampler' that gives a reader the full range of Lévi-Strauss's interests."—Daniel Bell, New York Times Book Review
The View from Afar
Claude Lévi-Strauss University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress GN362.L47413 1992 | Dewey Decimal 306
This collection touches on a wide range of anthropological issues, including family and marriage, myths, and rites, the environment and its representation, and constraint and freedom. The essays encompass more than forty years of analysis and constrain arguments that are as relevant today as they were thirty years ago.
"Hardly a field remains untouched—sociobiology, linguistics, botany, genetics, psychiatry, esthetics, ecology, politics, neuroscience, education, morality, psychology. . . . It's all breathtaking and alarming, some of it wonderful, some of it ridiculous. . . . At times the experience is exhilarating."—Richard A. Shweder, New York Times Book Review