structural anthropology


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structural anthropology

the perspective that stresses the priority of cognitive structures in ordering experience. It is primarily associated with LÉVI-STRAUSS who took his lead from the linguist F. de SAUSSURE. Lévi-Strauss's studies of KINSHIP and SYMBOLISM were attempts to demonstrate that a simple set of logical principles underlay sociocultural systems. Myths, for example, could be understood as linguistic transformations of essentially binary oppositions, such as male – female, raw-cooked, and so on, which are constitutive of human thought. Structural anthropology treats cultural phenomena as if they were a language and then attempts to discover the grammar, or what the US linguist CHOMSKY has called the ‘deep structure’. Whilst ‘high structuralism’ has been much criticized for its formalism, its methods have found general application in many areas of anthropology (E. Leach), sociology (ALTHUSSER, FOUCAULT) and literary criticism and SEMIOLOGY.
References in periodicals archive ?
Levi-Strauss' structural anthropology criticizes these sort of approaches by this differentiation: Western operation of mind bears an abstraction--formal character, whereas savage operation of mind bears no significant difference from West but, for being surrounded by a natural habitat, it is shaped by the reality of that habitat.
Indeed, it is possible to claim that this foundational text, and even the discipline, of structural anthropology is, to a great degree, predicated on this "weird spot." For as Luce Irigaray has pointed out in her critique of Levi-Strauss's theory of kinship systems, "Without the exchange of women, we are told, we would fall back into the anarchy of the natural world, the randomness of the animal kingdom" (170).
In his analysis, Chabot jettisoned the approaches of both the Leiden school of "structural anthropology", which sought to explain existing forms of social organization as corruptions of archaic systems of primitive classification, and of van Vollenhoven's school of "adat law", which sought to reduce the complexity and variety of Indonesian social life to nineteen "law areas" as a way to provide colonial administrators with appropriate guidelines for adjudicating disputes.
Merging primary sources with the best of structural anthropology, the author of this study explores state and societal responses to social deviance via the rituals of execution in Germany.
Cassuto presents his book as a revision of his 1989 dissertation, a work "informed by history" but more reliant, methodologically, on structural anthropology and the pioneering work of Frantz Fanon (xiv).
His major works include Les Structures elementaires de la parente (1949; translated as The Elementary Structures of Kinship, 1969), Tristes Tropiques (1955; translated as 1961, 1974), Anthropologie structurale (2 vols, 1958, 1973; translated as Structural Anthropology, 1963, 1976), Pensee sauvage (1962; translated as The Savage Mind, 1966), Mythologiques (4 vols, 1964 - 71; translated as Introduction to a Science of Mythology, 1969 - 81), and L ' Identite (1977).
The reading room is made up of two long wooden tables piled high with paperbacks from Kosuth's library at the time--texts dealing with linguistic philosophy, structural anthropology, and psychoanalytic theory--along with stacks of New York newspapers with such hard-hitting headlines as "US Deaths 165 in Week as Enemy Takes Post Near Phnom Phen, Then is Repulsed," and "World Inflation Spreads Despite Steps to Curb It." Though ostentatious in its heavy intimations of reading prowess (keep in mind Walter Benjamin's salvo when unpacking his library that even the most erudite collections include large swaths that go unread), Information Room is significant as a prototype for discursive installation formats that have since become customary.
"Structural anthropology," she wrote in 1963, "aims towards this, by obliterating all traces of the anthropologist's personal experience .
Hebdige as well as others in cultural studies turned to structural anthropology to obtain categories fit to describe processes of identification found to be lacking the cohesion of more traditional subcultural groups.

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