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Portrait of Claude Lévi-Strauss

Claude Lévi-Strauss

Anthropologist and Ethnologist
November 28, 1908 – October 30, 2009

Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist whose work was key in the development of the theory of structuralism and structural anthropology. He held the chair of Social Anthropology at the Collège de France between 1959 and 1982 and was elected a member of the Académie française in 1973. He received numerous honors from universities and institutions throughout the world and has been called, alongside James George Frazer and Franz Boas, the "father of modern anthropology."

Lévi-Strauss argued that the "savage" mind had the same structures as the "civilized" mind and that human characteristics are the same everywhere. These observations culminated in his famous book Tristes Tropiques that established his position as one of the central figures in the structuralist school of thought. As well as sociology, his ideas reached into many fields in the humanities, including philosophy. Structuralism has been defined as "the search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity."

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