Download Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory by Patrick Wilcken PDF

By Patrick Wilcken

The definitive account of the lifestyles, paintings, and legacy of Claude Lévi-Strauss, father of recent anthropology and one of many postwar era's such a lot influential thinkers.

whilst Claude Lévi-Strauss passed on to the great beyond final October at age a hundred, France celebrated the lifestyles and contributions of not just a preeminent anthropologist, but additionally one of many defining intellectuals of the 20th century. simply as Freud had shaken up the antiquarian self-discipline of psychiatry, so had Lévi-Strauss revolutionized anthropology, reworking it from the colonial period examine of "exotic" tribes to at least one ate up with basic questions about the character of humanity and civilization itself.

Remarkably, there hasn't ever been a biography in English of the enigmatic Claude Lévi-Strauss. Drawing on a welter of unique learn and interviews with the anthropologist, Patrick Wilcken's Claude Lévi-Strauss fills this void. In wealthy element, Wilcken re-creates Lévi-Strauss's peripatetic lifestyles: his groundbreaking fieldwork in the various remotest reaches of the Amazon within the Nineteen Thirties; his years as a Jew in Nazi- occupied France and as an émigré in wartime manhattan; and his go back to Paris within the past due Forties, the place he clashed with Jean-Paul Sartre and essentially inspired fellow postwar thinkers from Jacques Lacan to Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes. It used to be in France that structuralism, the varsity of inspiration he based, first took carry, growing waves a long way past the sphere of anthropology. In his heyday, Lévi-Strauss used to be either a hero to modern intellectuals and a global celebrity.

In Claude Lévi-Strauss, Wilcken offers the reader a desirable highbrow journey of the anthropologist's landmark works: Tristes Tropiques, a literary meditation on his travels and fieldwork; The Savage Mind, which confirmed that "primitive" everyone is pushed by way of an analogous highbrow curiosities as their Western opposite numbers; and at last his enormous four-volume Mythologiques, a learn of the common buildings of local mythology within the Americas. within the years that Lévi-Strauss released those pioneering works, Wilcken observes, tribal societies looked as if it would carry the solutions to the main profound questions about the human brain. Following the nice anthropologist from São Paulo to the Brazilian inside, and from ny to Paris, Patrick Wilcken's Claude Lévi- Strauss is either an evocative trip and an highbrow biography of 1 of the twentieth-century's such a lot influential minds.

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The object of study is one thing and the study of it another. ”26 What we do as anthropologists is construct interpretations of what we take to be other peoples’ realities. The writing of ethnography is what makes us anthropologists. We create fictions. These ethnographic fictions are constructs of other people’s constructs. As Geertz puts it, “Anthropologists have not always been as aware as they might be of this fact: that although culture exists in the trading post, the hill fort, or the sheep run, anthropology exists in the book, the article, the lecture, the museum display, or sometimes nowadays the film.

There has always been a conflict (or at least an implicit tension) within anthropology between the particularities of the peoples we go out to study and the theories we use to describe them. If the theory was not general enough, then the risk of mere descriptivism, naive empiricism, was present. ” The more general the theory, the less it could do justice to the particulars under consideration. So, culture, for Geertz, is irreducible to underlying universals: it is resolutely particular. There is no culture in general.

Paul Hyman happens to be extremely gifted at languages. He was a musician (and a mathematician) and had that gift of recognizing and reproducing tone, timbre, and pattern that most of us lack. Hyman had been a French major at Columbia. A professor of French nationality told his French conversation class that he could teach them to speak French quickly but only if they spoke English quickly. Although trivial as an insight, the claim was a critical one. It was a critical one in the sense that it indicated a legitimate limit.

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