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All Played Out?
Christopher Johnson detects the patterns of a hidden philosophy of history, threaded through Claude Lévi-Strauss’s most famous works. Might its seeming pessimism—a sequence of downward turns from the Neolithic to the present—hold out the possibility of alternative outcomes, virtual destinies?
An Anthropological Turn?
Alongside the familiar pathways of French post-structuralist thought, Jacob Collins detects an alternative trajectory in the work of four thinkers whose allegiances span the political spectrum. The return to ethnographical concepts of social belonging—fraternity, family, faith—amid the multiple crises of the 1970s.
Labour in the Levant
Against celebrations of the messianic potential of migrant labour, John Chalcraft presents the case of Syrian workers in Lebanon, where porous borders and hybrid identities serve to reproduce exploitative conditions. What motivations and aspirations underpin migration—and what routes might lead out of commodification’s web?
The Labyrinth of Kinship
Jack Goody on Maurice Godelier, Métamorphoses de la parenté. Kinship as the central concern of anthropology, and its place in French and British traditions of the discipline. The universality—or otherwise—of incest taboos; their interpretation by Lévi-Strauss; and the role of beliefs versus interests in generating them.
The Camera Possessed
Extraordinary career of Jean Rouch—surrealist, engineer, anthropologist, cinéaste—synthesizing the gains of Vertov and Flaherty, to take his camera inside the taboo. In Abidjan and Paris, ethnographical films appropriated by their subjects as springboard for the New Wave.
Replying to critics of his ‘Conjectures on World Literature’ (NLR 1), Franco Moretti considers the objections to a world-systems theory of the relations between centre and periphery in the sphere of the novel or poetry, and proposes some new hypotheses about the morphology of forms and the politics of comparative literary studies.
Conjectures on World Literature
Nearly two hundred years ago, Goethe announced the imminence of a world literature. Here Franco Moretti offers a set of hypotheses for tracking the birth and fate of the novel in the peripheries of Europe, in Latin America, Arab lands, Turkey, China, Japan, West Africa. For the first time, the prospect of a morphology of global letters?
The Idea of the Primitive: British Art and Anthropology 1918-1930
The idea of the primitive has long been a potent and highly influential current in British thought and history.footnote1 In particular, the period 1918–30 saw primitivism established as an important theme in writing on art and anthropology. Analysis of the concept may therefore usefully begin there—with a span of time . . . read more
Soviet Theories of Ethnicity: The Case of a Missing Term
All through the twentieth century the significance of ‘ethnicity’ in the structuring of social life and in setting patterns of political action has been extensive and usually unpredicted. Neither its treatment by 19th-century ‘rationalists’ as a retrograde piece of barbarism nor its biological-racial explanations by their ‘romantic’ foes stood well . . . read more
Introduction to Mannoni
The observation of wild children, re-captured after years in the forest or jungle, provides the most elementary disproof of the myth of ‘human nature’. These mirrors, in which man strives to recognize his own essence, exhibit none of those ‘human’ characteristics which he flatters himself are his by ‘nature’. The . . . read more
Introduction to Oscar Lewis
Over the last two years New Left Review has published a number of accounts—fictional and documentary—aiming to give the quality of life in an under-developed country: for instance Antonio Ferres’s story ‘Land of Olives’ (nlr 29) and Jan Myrdal’s description of life in a Chinese village (nlr 30). At the . . . read more
Itard and his Savage
The remarkable story of the re-education of the ‘savage’ of Aveyron, and the pedagogic methods devised by his teacher, Dr Itard, still influence many of the techniques used in the training of backward children today, more than a century and a half later. The situation is paradoxical in several respects; . . . read more
Paul Ricoeur: The methodological questions I should like to ask you are of three kinds; all three concern the possibility of co-ordinating your scientific method—structuralism as a science—with other modes of comprehension which are not built on a generalized linguistic model, but consist of a recovery of meaning in reflective . . . read more
Whether we think of the mummified cities of the Old World or the foetal towns of the New, we are apt to associate our highest material and spiritual values with city life. The great cities of India are a kind of wasteland. But what we in the West regard with . . . read more
Claude Levi-Strauss--Anthropologist and Philosopher
As with Darwin and Freud and many other famous men Claude Lévi-Strauss, Professor of Social Anthropology at the Collège de France, needs to be judged on two quite different levels. First we may ask: ‘What has he contributed to the particular scientific discipline in which he is a professional expert?’ . . . read more
The Origins of Male Domination
The social inequalities between men and women are increasingly questioned by women from quite diverse milieux and waging their fight in various ways. Theoretical positions and forms of struggle which a short time ago still had some credibility, and indeed some importance, have began to be transformed by the breadth . . . read more
Infrastructures, Societies and History
This essay—which summarizes the basic theses of my forthcoming book of the same title—seeks to provide a clear and concise formulation of my provisional conclusions on two key issues in the social sciences: the notions of ideology and class.footnote1 In it, I shall deal successively with four problems: 1. the . . . read more
Myth and History
The reflections presented here were intended to help clarify a specific problem; the problem of the relationship between mythical thought, primitive society and history. This problem, met abstractly by every anthropologist in the exercise of his discipline, was posed unavoidably for me in a practical sense when I had to . . . read more
Limits of British Anthropology
Anthropological studies in Britain grew up in the context of European, and especially British colonialism as a part of the colonial situation. Anthropologists for the most part did not question the colonial situation and the fact that they participated in it by investigating subjugated peoples. As they took the colonial . . . read more
The Crisis of British Anthropology
Two events have transformed the background of post-war anthropology: the colonial revolution leading to the rise of struggles against imperialism, now on the defensive, and, at a different level, the growth of structural anthropology. The one reflects the other, for the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss is an extended post-mortem on . . . read more