Claude Levi-Strauss

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Claude Levi-Strauss

Known as one of the greatest intellectuals of the twentieth century, Claude Levi-Strauss, a French anthropologist, has a prominent place in the development of the theory of structural anthropology. He is regarded as one of the primary figures on which structuralism thought is based. Levi-Strauss has proven himself to be very influential throughout the United States and various parts of Europe.

Claude Levi-Strauss was born in Brussels, Belgium on November 28, 1908. He is the son of an artist and a member of a French Jewish family. From 1927 to 1932, he studied law, philosophy, and sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris. He moved to Brazil in 1935 to be a professor of Sociology at the University of Sao Paulo. During his time in Brazil, he also carried out his first ethnographic fieldwork by living among and studying various native people of the Amazon. It was this event that established his identity as an anthropologist.

In 1939, Levi-Strauss set off to France to serve in the French army, but as a Jew during World War II, he eventually fled to New York City in 1941 where he spent most of the war as a professor at the New School for Social Research. Upon his return to France in 1948, Levi-Strauss received his doctorate from the Sorbonne for submitting two of his first works: "The Family and Social Life of the Nambikwara Indians" and "The Elementary Structures of Kinship".

In his earliest work, Levi-Strauss wrote mainly about the social institution of marriage. He was especially interested in the problem of incest. He believed that marriage shouldn't be thought of as a relationship between a man and a woman, but ought to be regarded as a union between two men bound together by the "exchange" of a woman. He created a model of kinship systems that were based on the different patterns of trade between men and groups of men. "The Elementary Structures of Kinship" rapidly became recognized as one of the most substantial works of...
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