[Marxism] Claude Levi-Strauss

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 19 11:50:03 MST 2009

Claude Levi-Strauss’s death on October 30 at the age of 101 led me 
to look a little bit into his thought. I was interested to see if 
his ideas had any bearing on my research into the Napoleon Chagnon 
controversy. Levi-Strauss’s initial foray into ethnology took 
place in the Brazilian rainforest among Indian tribes not that 
much different from the Yanomami. Indeed, Jacques Lizot, the gay 
anthropologist who became Chagnon’s adversary after their initial 
collaborations, was a student of Levi-Strauss. I also wanted to 
get a handle on his basic approach since Althusser’s Marxism is 
supposedly based on Levi-Strauss’s structuralism. What was that 
all about? Granted, it no longer has the urgency it once had. In 
my early days on the left and Marxist oriented mailing lists, 
structuralism still had some traction, owing to a large extent to 
the hegemony it enjoyed at the U. of Massachusetts under Richard 
Wolff and Stephen Resnick. That seems like a lifetime ago now.


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