November 4, 2009 in Nation/World

Levi-Strauss, anthropologist, dies

France mourn’s intellectual’s death at 100
Angela Doland Associated Press
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Levi-Strauss
(Full-size photo)

PARIS – Claude Levi-Strauss, widely considered the father of modern anthropology for work that included theories about commonalities between tribal and industrial societies, has died. He was 100.

The French intellectual was regarded as having reshaped the field of anthropology, introducing structuralism – concepts about common patterns of behavior and thought, especially myths, in a wide range of human societies. Defined as the search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity, structuralism compared the formal relationships among elements in any given system.

During his six-decade career, Levi-Strauss authored literary and anthropological classics including “Tristes Tropiques” (1955), “The Savage Mind” (1963) and “The Raw and the Cooked” (1964).

Jean-Mathieu Pasqualini, chief of staff at the Academie Francaise, said an homage to Levi-Strauss was planned for Thursday, with members of the society – of which Levi-Strauss was a member – standing during a speech to honor his memory.

France reacted emotionally to Levi-Strauss’ weekend death, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy joining government officials, politicians and ordinary citizens populating blogs with heartfelt tributes.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner praised his emphasis on a dialogue between cultures and said that France had lost a “visionary.” Sarkozy honored the “indefatigable humanist.”

Born on Nov. 28, 1908, in Brussels, Belgium, Levi-Strauss was the son of French parents of Jewish origin. He studied in Paris and went on to teach in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and conduct much of the research that led to his breakthrough books in the South American giant.

Beatriz Perrone Moises, an anthropology professor at the University of Sao Paulo, said “given his age, we were almost expecting this, but still I feel a kind of emptiness.”

Levi-Strauss was married three times and had two sons, Matthieu and Laurent.

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