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Claude Levi-Strauss av Edmund Leach
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Claude Levi-Strauss (utgåvan 1989)

av Edmund Leach

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273371,937 (3.13)Ingen/inga
In this lucide guide to the often abstruse works of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Edmund Leach synthesizes the thought of one of the twentieth century's greatest anthropologists and provides a thoughtful introduction to the theory and practice of structuralism. Leach organizes his work not by chronology but by theme, exploring three important topics in Lévi-Strauss's work: human beings and their symbols, the structure of myth, and kinship theory. Written concisely and with great care and penetration, this brief book is both a fine introduction for the uninitiated reader of Lévi-Strauss and a critical analysis that will prove valuable to those more familiar with the anthropologist's work.… (mer)
Medlem:okonoko
Titel:Claude Levi-Strauss
Författare:Edmund Leach
Info:University Of Chicago Press (1989), Paperback, 153 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:Claude Levi-Strauss, Mythology>Structuralism

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Lévi-Strauss av Edmund Leach (Author)

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This is a popular account of the work of Levi-Strauss, who is known for bringing Structuralism to his field of Anthropology. Structuralism, when applied to its original fields of linguistics, can sometimes seem so simple as to be a re-stating of the obvious using unnecessary technical terms, with its intellectual significance entirely out of grasp. However, from reading this work, the importance of Structuralism in Anthropology appears quite clear and wide-ranging.

Though the analogy with Kant is not used in this book, there are some similarities between what he attempted to do for our understanding of the natural world, and what Levi-Strauss has done for the cultural, social, and mythological world. In the first case, Kant claims that pre-existing organisational structures in our minds determine the categories that order our perceptions – giving us conceptions of three-dimensional space, time, quantity, relation etc. What Levi-Strauss does is to present evidence that we have pre-existing categories, or structures of organising abstract social or cultural concepts in our minds, which we have inherited from simple versions evolved in the animal kingdom. These unconscious structures provide a means of categorising, and thus structuring our social behaviour and human cultural behaviour. They are not deterministic, but they predispose us to act and see the world in certain ways. These universal categories often exist in binary oppositions, for example male/female, predator/prey, edible/non-edible, same-species/different-species, and evolved as useful concepts (not necessarily used consciously, but instinctively), over the vast history of evolution. He shows that these categories can be seen in operation in the animal kingdom, and were carried over and developed in complexity in human societies. Some interesting examples are given in the development of social hierarchy, and its effects on the social value and role of food and other matters such as marriage that appear to be universal or at least widely spread across independently-developed cultures.

Thus structuralism is a method of drawing out organisational concepts, and ways of classifying things, that enables patterns in behaviour to be found across societies. In its more complex forms this is used to produce tables, or algebraic matrices of permutations in multiple categories, where combinational similarities can be drawn out between disparate cultures, which wouldn’t otherwise be apparent. These are the same similarities and aspects of cultures that would ordinarily be studied by the anthropologist, but the use of structuralism is here a useful tool for increasing the depth of the analysis, while at the same time providing explanatory power with over-arching concepts, as well as predictive scope for future investigations. A very good example is provided in this volume on structuralist interpretation of Greek myths (though Levi-Strauss worked predominantly on South American culture), which offers to explain multiple otherwise-confusing features of these stories.

In addition to explaining the value of structuralism in anthropology, this book also does a good job of illustrating its limitations. Firstly, in some examples of its simpler uses, it is difficult to see how the use of structuralism provides anything in addition to a non-structuralist approach, other than a linguistic sleight-of-hand or re-description of the same facts using different terms. At the other end of the complexity scale, where vast tabular comparisons have been made to draw out cross-cultural similarities across a range of phenomena, it has been accused of ignoring evidence that does not fit to the predicted patterns, or at least a selective interpretation of the recorded facts.

Overall a great introduction to structuralism and its use in anthropology, and general enough in its importance to be worth reading for the general reader interested in human culture. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Mar 24, 2019 |
Written in the 1970s, this critical introduction to Levi-Strauss is an excellent guide to Lévi-Strauss's ideas as well as to the deficiencies in his structuralist approach. Leach comes out of the functionalist school which has a particular focus on the rules and practices of each individual society whereas Lévi-Strauss developed the structuralist (based on linguistics) approach in seeking to identify underlying common tendencies in all human societies. Leach is quick to point out where Lévi-Strauss overreaches or where his theories fail to match empirical facts. But he also acknowledges that Lévi-Strauss's method provides important insights and should not be ignored. Using an example of his own, Leach explains how cultural manifestations can be based on structural foundations in our understanding of nature. He explains the algebraic binary oppositions that are at the bottom of Lévi-Strauss's analytical technique. He then takes us through the analysis of cooking, human nature, myths and finally the structures of kinship. ( )
  drsabs | Jan 2, 2019 |
Edmund Leach wrote a short introduction to Claude Lévi - Strauss´ work: Explaining the basics of structural approach to Social and Cultural Anthropology, he describes Lévis - Straussian binaries and models. ( )
  sybilamber | Jul 4, 2007 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Leach, EdmundFörfattareprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Kermode, FrankRedaktörmedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Bevan, OliverOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Constable, JohnOmslagsformgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Claude Lévi-Strauss, Professor of Social Anthropology at the Collège de France, is, by common consent, the most distinguished exponent of this particular academic trade to be found anywhere outside the English speaking world, but scholars who call themselves social anthropologists are of two kinds.
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In this lucide guide to the often abstruse works of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Edmund Leach synthesizes the thought of one of the twentieth century's greatest anthropologists and provides a thoughtful introduction to the theory and practice of structuralism. Leach organizes his work not by chronology but by theme, exploring three important topics in Lévi-Strauss's work: human beings and their symbols, the structure of myth, and kinship theory. Written concisely and with great care and penetration, this brief book is both a fine introduction for the uninitiated reader of Lévi-Strauss and a critical analysis that will prove valuable to those more familiar with the anthropologist's work.

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