Details

ISBN-10: 0231170696
ISBN-13: 9780231170697
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publish Date: 11/14/2017
Dimensions: 8.40" L, 5.50" W, 0.50" H

We Are All Cannibals: And Other Essays

Foreword by: Maurice Olender
Translator: Jane Marie Todd

Paperback

Price: $21.00

Overview

On Christmas Eve 1951, Santa Claus was hanged and then publicly burned outside of the Cathedral of Dijon in France. That same decade, ethnologists began to study the indigenous cultures of central New Guinea, and found men and women affectionately consuming the flesh of the ones they loved. “Everyone calls what is not their own custom barbarism,” said Montaigne. In these essays, Claude Levi-Strauss shows us behavior that is bizarre, shocking, and even revolting to outsiders but consistent with a people’s culture and context.
These essays relate meat eating to cannibalism, female circumcision to medically assisted reproduction, and mythic thought to scientific thought. They explore practices of incest and patriarchy, nature worship versus man-made material obsessions, the perceived threat of art in various cultures, and the innovations and limitations of secular thought. Levi-Strauss measures the short distance between “complex” and “primitive” societies and finds a shared madness in the ways we enact myth, ritual, and custom. Yet he also locates a pure and persistent ethics that connects the center of Western civilization to far-flung societies and forces a reckoning with outmoded ideas of morality and reason.

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Reviews
Claude Lévi-Strauss invites us to think through the persistence of primitive thought in the rapid growth of rituals and forms of worship. By giving accounts of structure and history, he celebrates the architecture of mind, empowering facts not only for the pleasure of thinking but also for the diagnosis of unseen social transformations. The globalized celebration of Santa Claus–that commercialization of the sacred–has its origins in the Latin Saturnalia and Native American kachinas; the political philosophy of the French Revolution owes its foundations to the cannibals of New Guinea; and the mythic thinking of societies without writing rivals the most audacious fables of modern astrophysics. Lévi-Strauss was the austere author of The Elementary Structures of Kinship, but did he also become, with age, a novelist of ideas, like those French philosophes of the Enlightenment? I am not sure he would have appreciated this suggestion, but I can give him no higher praise: We Are All Cannibals reads like a novel.–Julia Kristeva
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Details

ISBN-10: 0231170696
ISBN-13: 9780231170697
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publish Date: 11/14/2017
Dimensions: 8.40" L, 5.50" W, 0.50" H
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