Dina Lévi-Strauss, née Dreyfus (1911-1999) was a French ethnologist and anthropologist, who conducted cultural research in South America, taught at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and founded the first ethnological society in the country.
In 1932 she married Claude Lévi-Strauss, who developed his interest in ethnology while working with his wife. In 1935 she joined the French cultural mission to lecture at the newly founded University of São Paulo. She taught a course on practical ethnology that attracted a large audience from the town's educated, French-speaking society. She also founded Brazil's first ethnological society with Mario de Andrade.
Artifacts collected during the Mato Grosso expedition first were exhibited in Paris at the Musée de l'Homme during 1937. The title of the exhibition, Indiens du Mato-Grosso (Mission Claude et Dina Lévi-Strauss), recognized the contributions of both scientists.
During the last and longest expedition to the Nambikwara she contracted an eye infection that forced her return to São Paulo, from which she then returned to France. Her husband remained and concluded the expedition. They later divorced.
In the following decades, her influence upon her husband and her contribution to their joint expeditions fell largely into oblivion when her role was ignored in the writings of her former husband that became so important to the field of anthropology. When Claude Lévi-Strauss described his Brazilian experience in his 1955 classic, Tristes Tropiques, he mentioned his former wife only once, noting the moment when she had to separate from the last expedition.
Dina Lévi-Strauss returned to France in 1938. The couple Lévi-Strauss separated in 1939, and divorced at the latest in 1945, when Claude Lévi-Strauss remarried. Dina took back her maiden name Dreyfus.
She later worked as a philosophy teacher in a Lycée, in university preparation classes, and in university, and she became an inspecteur général in the French education system. In the 1950s, she published articles on Bernanos and Simone Weil; in the 1960s, she translated Hume and Freud.
- a catalogue entry of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
- Ellen Spielmann: Das Verschwinden Dina Lévi-Strauss' und der Transvestismus Mário de Andrades: Genealogische Rätsel in der Geschichte der Sozial- und Humanwissenschaften im modernen Brasilien. La desaparición de Dina Lévi-Strauss y el transvestismo de Mário de Andrade: enigmas genealógicos en la historia de las ciencias sociales y humanas del Brasil moderno. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-936846-16-2.
- Bertrand Saint Sernin: Dina Dreyfus ou la raison enseignante, Temps Modernes 516, 142-157 (July 1989).
- Mercure de France, nos. 1053 (1951), 1069 (1952).
- Catalogue of Bibliothèque Nationale.