Structural Anthropology Zero
Structural Anthropology Zero
Translated by Ninon Vinsonneau, Jonathan Magidoff

This volume of Lévi-Strauss's writings from 1941 to 1947 bears witness to a period of his work which is often overlooked but which was the crucible for the structural anthropology that he would go on to develop in the years that followed.

Like many European Jewish intellectuals, Lévi-Strauss had sought refuge in New York while the Nazis overran and occupied much of Europe.  He had already been introduced to Jakobson and structural linguistics but he had not yet laid out an agenda for structuralism, which he would do in the 1950s and 60s. At the same time, these American years were the time when Lévi-Strauss would learn of some of the world's most devastating historical catastrophes - the genocide of the indigenous American peoples and of European Jews.  From the beginning of the 1950s, Lévi-Strauss's anthropology tacitly bears the heavy weight of the memory and possibility of the Shoah. To speak of 'structural anthropology zero' is therefore to refer to the source of a way of thinking which turned our conception of the human on its head. But this prequel to <i>Structural Anthropology</i> also underlines the sense of a tabula rasa which animated its author at the end of the war as well as the project – shared with others – of a civilizational rebirth on novel grounds.

Published here in English for the first time, this volume of Lévi-Strauss’s texts from the 1940s will be of great interest to students and scholars in anthropology, sociology and the social sciences generally.

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  • November 2021
  • 300 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509544974
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  • 9781509544981
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  • 9781509544998
Table of Contents
Note on the French Edition

List of Illustrations

Introduction by Vincent Debaene

History and method

I. French Sociology

II. In Memory of Malinowski

III. The Work of Edward Westermarck

IV. The Name of the Nambikuara

Individual and society

V. Five Book Reviews

VI. Techniques for Happiness

Reciprocity and hierarchy

VII. War and Trade among the Indians of South America

VIII. The Theory of Power in a Primitive Society

IX. Reciprocity and Hierarchy

X. The Foreign Policy of a Primitive Society


XI. Indian Cosmetics

XII. The Art of the Northwest Coast at the American Museum of Natural History

South American ethnography

XIII. The Social Use of Kinship Terms among Brazilian Indians

XIV. On Dual Organization in South America

XV. The Tupí-Cawahíb

XVI. The Nambicuara

XVII. Tribes of the Right Bank of the Guaporé River




About the Author
Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009) was one of the most influential anthropologists of the twentieth century.  He held the Chair of Social Anthropology at the College de France from 1959 to 1982 and was the author of many books including Tristes Tropiques and Structural Anthropology.
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