Talk:Claude Lévi-Strauss

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Claude Lorrain[edit]

I don't think Lévi-Strauss wrote about Claude Lorrain, but rather he wrote about Nicolas Poussin, as can be proven. Can we straighten this out? The first paragraph should add that the book Introducing Lévi-Strauss has claimed that he lived on the Rue Nicolas Poussin, and wrote about this painter. But if Lévi-Strauss did not live on the Rue Poussin, but the Rue Lorrain, we need to point out that he did not write about Lorrain.Cdg1072 (talk) 16:50, 5 December 2009 (UTC)


Whats the deal with the caricature? The man is 100 years old, there must be at least one uncopyrighted photo of him out there....I'll see if I can get one. Deathinvenice (talk contribs) 01:58, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree. There should be plenty of photos out there we can use. This is just some painting by a Wikipedian, which I find a bit inappropriate. There was a discussion on this topic some time ago at the VisArts WikiProject. I'll have to track down the archived discussion, but I believe consensus was for using user-submitted artwork only in special circumstances (i.e. no other image is available) unless it was a commissioned work of art, such as a portrait or bust. I somehow doubt this was commissioned. freshacconci talktalk 18:28, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
The image was uploaded to the article by the user himself. freshacconci talktalk 18:34, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Agreed, but there's not a lot of explicitely copyright-free photos. I would suggest that low-res scans of a photoset from his Brazilian expedition in 1935-39 qualify as "fair use" in English wikipedia. But I'm not uploading it to the Commons. Unesco Courier attributes copyright to Levi-Strauss himself, so they will not enter public domain for quite a while. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Maebelater (talkcontribs) 07:41, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Is he related to the jean company?[edit]

Was he related to the people of the Levi-Strauss jean company???? Antonio Jack Daniels Martin

You mean Levi Strauss the clothing manufacturer.

No. --Girl2k (talk) 04:52, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Unquestionably, yes. They are both Ashekenazi Strausses. How closely they are related is another issue. Levi Strauss was born Lob Strauss, so the degree of similarity in their names is coincident to that accident of fortune. Geofferic (talk) 21:44, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Somewhere, if I can just bloody remember where, I have an article in which Lévi-Strauss says yes, they are related, and even explains how. It is distant, but they are definitely related. Now, where is it...? ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 03:23, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Should something be added here about post-structural criticism?[edit]

I wonder if this article does not present a broad enough view of Lévi-Strauss in ignoring the criticism he has attracted from Derrida and others; as the previous contributors might know it was partly the reaction to Lévi-Strauss' reductive theories that gave rise to the amalgam of philosophies sometimes termed as 'post-structuralism.' The article does say some of his later work is "controversial" but perhaps that could be expounded on; comments welcome. -- Simonides 05:11, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)

looks great!

It does seem surprising that the article makes no mention of Derrida whatsoever. --Quadalpha (talk) 04:55, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Indeed. Obviously it's deliberately not mentioned, because the world now is dominated (and oblireated) by Levi-Strauss's malicious intentions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:50, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree that Derrida should be mentioned, particularly his famous address at John Hopkins U where he first presented "Sign, Structure, and Play." --Matt (talk) 12:36, 25 November 2014 (UTC)
  • For the article to be complete yes it should describe poststructuralism in social theory as a reaction to Levi-strauss. But as it is now the article doesnt even describe Levi-Strauss own ideas, so it dosnt make much sense to start adding a detailed critique.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 16:41, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

Proposed outline[edit]

This article is pretty good, but is long enough that some headers would be of assistance. This reveals that it is somewhat scattered, with an entire paragraph about how marriage customs interested him, followed by 22 paragraphs, and then another two paragraphs on the same subject. Therefore, I propose an outline:

  1. Intro
  2. Philosophy
  3. Anthropological context
  4. Marriage customs
  5. Conclusion


French, Belgian, or Swiss?[edit]

He was born in Brussels but appears to have spent most of his adult life in France. Does anyone know his citizenship? --Angr/tɔk tə mi 06:47, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

Levi-Strauss was a citizen of France. Iirc, his family frequently vacationed in Belgium, and that is why he was born there. Rex 07:12, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

Thanks! One more thing--you speak of him in the past tense, but the article gives no death date. Is he dead or alive? --Angr/tɔk tə mi 07:47, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

Two members of my dissertation committee studies with L-S, one very closely. Afaik he's still around. In fact I think the birthdate for him is wrong -- I remember many people celebrating his 100th birthday, but I can find no sources on the internet that confirm this. Maybe I'm nuts. Rex 03:59, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Or maybe, like George Burns, he celebrated his 100th birthday early, so as to be sure not to miss it. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 06:05, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

I wonder if Lévi-Strauss has already stumbled on his Wikipedia page, but be nice and let Jacques Chirac think about his old age: who, from the fool or the wiseman, has the most to be scared about? But, let's be nice to everybody, because Jacques Chirac is also part of Lévi-Strauss fan-club, which shows he's not such a simple-minded guy...

He's 96, I think. I don't know how I got that number into my head so it may be off by a year or two. He's not yet 100, though. MTBradley 17:29, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

NEITHER; He is Swiss. Every textbook I've ever read, and ever lecture I've ever had, has refered to him as being Swiss (if it has refered to his nationality at all). And I quote: "Structuralist thought began with the work of the Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure" (Barker, 2005: 806) He may have published in French, he may got a French passport during his latter life, but that is besides the point. I have changed the page accordingly. Tomsega/tɔk tə mi 19:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Lévi-Strauss is French and not just 'considered French'. To settle the question one has to look up the laws from 1908. Being born to French parents made you French and still does, but I am not sure if being born in Belgium made you a Belgian nor about double nationality, choosing at majority an other niceties pertaining to formal citizenship. As far as I am aware nobody claimed that he was Belgian except in the sense of being born there, so I changed (talk) 14:57, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

One of the twentieth century's greatest intellectuals[edit]

This is a direct violation of a guideline. Please avoid peacock terms. If you think he is well cited, please provide verifiable statistics of citation of his works rather than saying "he is one of the most well cited authors" which amounts to the same thing. Vapour

Have you got an axe to grind against him? Lévi-Strauss was one of the main founder of structuralism, without which there would be no post-structuralism. He inspired more than three generations of thinkers in France and elsewhere, and his Alliance theory remained predominant in France until the 1980s, that is, 30 years after he initially formulated it. See:
"Albert Einstein (German pronunciation (help·info)) (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a theoretical physicist widely regarded as the most important scientist of the 20th century and one of the greatest physicists of all time."
"Michel Foucault (October 15, 1926 – June 25, 1984) was a French philosopher who held a chair at the Collège de France, which he gave the title "The History of Systems of Thought." His writings have had an enormous impact on other scholarly work: Foucault's influence extends across the humanities and social sciences, and across many applied and professional areas of study."
"The name Freud is generally pronounced /fɹɔɪd/ in English and /frɔɪt/ in German. He is commonly referred to as "the father of psychoanalysis" and his work has been tremendously influential in the popular imagination – popularizing such notions as the unconscious, defence mechanisms, freudian slips and dream symbolism – while also making a long-lasting impact on fields as diverse as literature, film, marxist and feminist theories, literary criticism, philosophy, and of course, psychology.
"Ferdinand de Saussure (pronounced [fɛr.di.nã.dɘ.so.ˈsyr]) (November 26, 1857 - February 22, 1913) was a Geneva-born Swiss linguist whose ideas laid the foundation for many of the significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered the 'father' of 20th-century linguistics."
"Bronisław Kasper Malinowski (April 7, 1884 – May 16, 1942) was a Polish anthropologist widely considered to be one of the most important anthropologists of the twentieth century because of his pioneering work on ethnographic fieldwork, the study of reciprocity, and his detailed contribution to the study of Melanesia."
Etc. etc. We are not talking about a minor intellectual, and Lévi-Strauss' influence has gone far outside the limits of anthropology. Much of today's work would have had a very different figure without him. You are either showing off your ignorance, or your hatred. Stop. Lapaz 15:42, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I pay a visit to a section of a public park which I haven't visited before. I notice a litter, pick it up and put it in a bin. Someone come along, take the litter from the bin and put it back on the ground.
I - "Why did you do that!???"
Someone - "Look around you. There are other litters lying around in the park. I insist that you pick up all other litters. I won't let you pick this litter until you do."
Please do not be so unreasonable. Wikipedia is free and open to everyone, and are supposed to be maintained by the collective goodwill of the community. I nor you have a responsibility to be "the" janitor of the whole park. But it is a nice thing to do if someone like myself pick up someone else's litter. You are free to collect litters in other sections of the park which you surveyed. As of your paranoia about me having an axe to grind, this is simply misplaced. I haven't heard his name until it popped up in a forum debate a while ago. Sorry but not everyone studies modern French philosophy. I don't know much about French style of gardening but I just happened to notice a litter (peacock word), which wasn't that difficult to spot. Vapour
Good grief. Strauss *IS* one of the most important social sciences academics of the 20th century. Theres nothing peacock about it. The guy has had a gigantic number of citations, been staple 101 reading for almost any reputable course on anthropology, semiology, sociology, linguistics, cultural studies, literature theory and the list goes on. If you think he's just some minor figure in french academia your *really* not paying attention. He's up there with chomsky , foucault, weber and freud. (talk) 16:47, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

I think the terminology used was a peacock word. It should be allowed to be posted as long as it is marked "as considered as" and <citation needed>.Adam37 21:26, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Hate to quibble but the external link to John Hopkins Guide is not very accessible.I've been seeing that link on quite a few pages lately.It's against the guidelines and shouldn't someone delete it?Zain

Possible addition to Bib[edit]

I came across this reference while working on this edit in Definition.
I don't know enough about this article to decide whether this reference should be added to the Bib.

1962 "Social structure." in Anthropology today: Selections. Edited by Sol Tax, . Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [first published in 1952] --Jtir 15:13, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Lévi-Strauss influences[edit]

The article talks a little about the influence the study of phonetics had on Lévi-Strauss, yet I don't see any mention to one of the most influential figures in the French anthropologist's work, namely, Ferdinand de Saussure. This is not something controversial, either: at several times throughout Structural Anthropology Lévi-Strauss explicitly mentions this influence (see, for example, in his "The Structure of Myths").

Another important influence that was left out from the article is that of psychoanalysis. Again, this clinical practice started by Freud had an important impact on Lévi-Strauss work, an impact he also explicitly acknowledges: in the aforementioned work, when he's discussing the therapeutic efficacy of certain rituals ("The Symbolic Efficacious"), he draws parallels between the rituals and the clinical practices of psychoanalysis, indicating the influence the latter had on his vision of how the former work.

Conversely, there's also little talk about the reception of Lévi-Strauss works; how he influenced, for example, Foucault in his search of the "historical a priori", or how his structuralist vision helped shape the French intellectual experience.

I would include a "Reception" and "Influences" section on the article myself, yet I don't feel like I'm apt to do so, as I have just begun to read Lévi-Strauss — besides, I don't have much time to do a decent work right now. Yet, if no one else does it, perhaps I'll eventually sketch out those sections... Daniel Nagase 03:05, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

French Structuralism?[edit]

Currently there is no article for French Structuralism! Anybody interested in spearheading this? No time for me now, but perhaps soon. -- greek lamb 01:49, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

99 years old[edit]

he must be 99Muntuwandi 20:58, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Splitting proposal[edit]

The problem with splitting this article into 2 articles -- one on Levi-Strauss the man, and one on the structuralist theory of myth -- is that Levi-Strauss wasn't the only structuralist interpreter of myth, and some structuralists (i.e., Propp) have interpreted the structure of myth quite differently from him. I agree that we need an article on structuralist mythology in general, but the contents of the "Structuralist approach to myth" section of this article are specific to Levi-Strauss (or, at least, Levi-Strauss was the first to develop this particular kind of structural interpretation). Thus, I don't think we'd gain anything by cutting out that section from this article. Now, what we could do is create that article on structural mythology and make one particular section of that article on Levi-Strauss's theories. --Phatius McBluff 06:47, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm none too keen on the split myself. Levi-Strauss is the overwhelming contributor to the structural study of myth and its central to his own career. Let's not split. --Smilo Don 01:07, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. I think that three nos and no yeses is excuse enough for removing that ghastly split tag at the top of the page. If anyone has any qualms with me removing it, they can state their reason here, so it will be no harm done. --Le vin blanc (talk) 08:27, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Adding references[edit]

Someone just removed the "unreferenced" notice. It's true that I tried to add plenty of references while adding the section on the structuralist approach to myth. However, the preceding sections still do lack references. Someone obviously spent time working on those sections, and since no one has riddled the article with "citation needed" notices, everyone presumably thinks this article's claims are sound. If so, someone should be able to find more references for this article. I'm not going to put the "unreferenced" notice back up, but I do think someone should be able to put up more references. --Phatius McBluff 22:07, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

He's born in Brussels, that's right. That makes him Belgian, not French. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:00, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

A review of this article[edit]

You may be interested in a very interesting review of the English and French Wikipedia articles Lévi-Strauss by an anthropologist (who is himself the author of a book about CLV): (French) Claude Lévi-Strauss, sans ambiguïtés ?. He liked the English version, so congratulations to the authors of this page! (But he had a very critical view of the French version, shame on us...) Seudo (talk) 21:54, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

Cryptic Key Entry[edit]

The section on LS's thought commences:

..Lévi-Strauss noted that the relation between the uncle and the nephew was to the relation between brother and sister as the relation between father and son is to that between husband and wife.

This is very likely to create confusion, as nothing specifies the sense behind this analogy.

It is especially unfortunate that this occurs at the very beginning of the first section a reader (I assume someone unfamiliar with LS) will seek out.

It would be advisable to elucidate this remark with examples from various societies. Alternatively, it should be removed. --Philopedia (talk) 11:12, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

What about cold and hot societies?[edit]

I could not find any reference to cold and hot societies. Sohale (talk) 21:27, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm not familiar enough with Levi-Strauss's work to discuss hot and cold societies. I'm not sure whether other editors are either. Perhaps you could add something? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 23:12, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
See the introduction to Anthropologie structurale, for further references about cold and hot societies. --Juan José Moral (talk) 22:22, 12 May 2009 (UTC)


How did he die ?? Dr. Universe (talk) 15:14, 11 February 2010 (UTC)


born AND died at age 100, incredible! (talk) 17:10, 3 November 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Syncategoremata (talkcontribs)

Date of death[edit]

This article gives his date of deaths as being November 1 but the website of Le Mot says he died between October 31 and November 1 2009. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 22:31, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

When the hell he died? French Wiki says it's 30th, English says 31st, Japanese says 1st of November! - (talk) 06:51, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

New York Times reports that his son said he died on Friday (Oct 30) - here. AP also reports that French media give Friday Oct 30 as the date of death - here. Tvoz/talk 07:20, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
French media, as this, says L'ethnologue et anthropologue Claude Lévi-Strauss est mort dans la nuit du samedi 31 octobre au dimanche 1er novembre, which means that he died on the night between 31th of october and 1st of november. Personally, I'd trust someone if they give me a date more than if they just say he died friday. //moralist 10:04, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
This seems quite a mess L'Obs says Saturday, Le Monde too. L'Express says in the night between Friday and Saturday... -- Luk talk 16:15, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
The Académie Francaise states 30 October. frwp switched to that date too... -- Luk talk 16:20, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

100 years old??[edit]

Born 28 November 1908 Brussels, Belgium Died 30 October 2009 (aged 100)

1908-2009 - isn't that supposed to sum 101?? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:44, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

He died before his 101st birthday. Dougweller (talk) 15:19, 3 March 2013 (UTC)


I was wondering if it's possible to replace the image with a table: this will be better-looking and wiki-linkable. Unfortunately, I'm not so good with templates and I've produced something really simple in the article. Please, could someone make it look better? Thanks -- CristianCantoro (talk) 10:02, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

IP edit[edit]

An anonymous editor (with this single contribution to his name) made the following edit:

"Claude Lévi-Strauss was born to French parents who were living in Brussels at the time, ..."

was changed to

"Claude Lévi-Strauss was born to Jewish-French parents who were living in Brussels at the time,..."

with the edit description "(→Biography: Noting Jewish ethnic background)".

Since this is the first sentence of the biography, rather than the lead paragraph, this does not technically fall under the "no ethnicity in the lead paragraph" rule. Still, it feels a little forced. It is not as if somebody became a special sort of Frenchman simply because he (or, in Levi-Strauss's case, his grandparents) belonged to a certain religion or had a certain ancestry. If I understand correctly, it is also not the case (as it was for Emile Durkheim) that Judaism played any big role in Levi-Strauss's background. The matter of his family's ancestry is already touched upon when the war years are discussed - and this is the period when his ancestry was most relevant to his biography.

He put it as follows - « Je me sens concerné par le sort d’Israël, de la même façon qu’un Parisien conscient de ses origins bretonnes pourrait se sentir concerné par ce qui se passe en Irlande: ce sont des cousins éloignés.» Feketekave (talk) 11:04, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Father of Modern Anthropology?[edit]

While I can see that every obituary out there seems to be running with the whole "father of modern anthropology" thing, is there a reference that predates this? As far as I know, Franz Boas was largely considered the "father of modern anthropology" if anybody is. - (talk) 18:14, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

'Criticism' section and images.[edit]

The 'criticism' section of this article seems to be woefully inadequate, being wholly devoted to a critique (and not a very good one at that) of Levi-Strauss' (L-S) concept of the trickster. This is really a pretty minor criticism of his work, it would be more useful, I think, to provide an overview of critiques levelled by many recent anthropologists at L-S' general body of work: Including things like: His setting of 'primitive' peoples as outside of history (I don't know if J. Fabian mentioned L-S directly but I do know that many have attacked L-S using Fabian's ideas of temporal othering). L-S' reliance on dualisms (life/death, hot/cold, male/female, etc) and his claims that these oppositions are universal. L-S has been widely criticised with regard to this - i.e. these dualisms are rooted in European thought and his universal application of them was wrong. These two criticisms are certainly more important than the trickster one in the article and I am sure there are a number of other important ones too. Secondly, there is only one image in this article and it is of an ederly L-S. There are a number of famous images of L-S in his prime in Brazil which I think it would be good to have in the article.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:59, 8 February 2010 (UTC) 
I remember in college that any discussion of anthropology seemed to be a critique of levi-strauss. I agree that more sourced criticism is needed. Of course, some of that criticism is likely to be the usual academic status and tenure seeking, but its still notable.Mercurywoodrose (talk) 16:52, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
I don't have time to do much with any material I have found or may find. But I can and have created a 'Further reading' section, into which I've placed some works which likely help expand the criticism section. One work notes Levi-Strauss' own words as the foundation for criticism: his attack on a lay-reader's criticism on the basis that the critic was a lay-reader and thus not entitled to criticise him!!
I get the impression from another of the works that some contemporary criticism of Levi-Strauss should be tempered by the context of the era in which he was operating, and the status of the field of knowledge at the time. This by the way is a point that the late Stephen Jay Gould often made in his essays on the development of evolutionary theory, and the historical context for some of what we now regard as ludicrous: that is, what we now regard a ludicrous may have been bold in its day etc. Nowadays, all good anthropologists know about such caveats: not necessarily the specifics, but rather, the fact that when analysing literature from the vantage point of our own era, we must always consider the socio-historical context prevailing at the time of the phenomena we are analysing.
At any rate, the way to develop this section, like any section, or any article, is to simply find material. If time is of the essence, create a list to either capitalise upon yourselves, or allow others to capitalise upon. All literature review proceeds in much this fashion, analogous to most research: that is, accumulate data, data, data. Then review the data and see what there is to say. Wotnow (talk) 22:14, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

House society[edit]

Should something about this concept be here, or elsewhere on Wikipedia? Sumbuddi (talk) 00:55, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

definitely! Be Bold!·Maunus·ƛ· 01:00, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
er, no.Sumbuddi (talk) 01:05, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
Well then I guess we won't have anything about House societies for a while longer.·Maunus·ƛ· 01:49, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
I guess not.Sumbuddi (talk) 02:40, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

Political Correctness[edit]

One could say "he wrote the book on political correctness" (see his UN-commissioned "Race and History" --KpoT (talk) 16:28, 7 January 2011 (UTC)


I have a vague memory of seeing Levi-Strauss copying passages from a book of abstract algebra. Perhaps someone can find the reference for this pseudo-maths of his. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:44, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Andre Weil wrote a few pages as an appendix for The elementary structures of Kinship and the topic was commented see . e.g. L. Haddad, Y. Sureau, J. of Pure and Applied Algebra, 87, 21 July 1993, Issue 3, Pages 221– (talk) 10:50, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

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