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We are All Cannibals: And Other Essays

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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.

Claude Levi-Strauss was born in Brussels in 1908. He held the chair of social anthropology at the College de France from 1959 to 1982 and was elected a member of the Academie Francaise in 1973. He died in Paris on October 30, 2009.

Author: Levi-Strauss Claude
Publisher: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS
Pages: 159
ISBN: 9780231170680
Cover: Hardback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2016

Claude Levi-Strauss was born in Brussels in 1908. He held the chair of social anthropology at the College de France from 1959 to 1982 and was elected a member of the Academie Francaise in 1973. He died in Paris on October 30, 2009.

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