Claude Lévi-Strauss

He wasn't the kind of anthropologist devoted to field work in far-flung places. "I hate traveling and explorers" is the first line of Tristes Tropiques, his classic 1955 account of his years in Brazil and other locales. Instead, his position as one of the greatest figures in anthropology, and as a giant in postwar intellectual life generally, rests upon his effort to draw from anthropology a larger philosophy of human cultures.

Building on the linguistic science developed by the pioneering semiotician Ferdinand de Saussure, Lévi-Strauss became a pivotal figure in the development of structuralism, which holds that universal mental structures underlie...

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