French anthropologist Levi-Strauss dead at 100

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The Independent Culture

French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, whose work deeply influenced Western thinking about civilisation, has died at the age of 100, his publisher Plon said Tuesday.

Levi-Strauss died overnight Saturday to Sunday, according to fellow academics at the school of social sciences.

Trained as a philosopher, Levi-Strauss shot to prominence with his 1955 book "Tristes Tropiques", a haunting account of his travels and studies in the Amazon basin that is considered one of the 20th century's major works.

He was a leading proponent of structuralism, which sought to uncover the hidden, unconscious or primitive patterns of thought believed to determine the outer reality of human culture and relationships.

Structuralism was also, Levi-Strauss liked to say, "the search for unsuspected harmonies."

He had celebrated his 100th birthday on November 28 last year.

French academia and the cultural elite had mobilised to pay homage to Levi-Strauss with a programme of films, lectures and reflection on his contribution to modern thinking.

Among the more striking conclusions of his work was the idea that there is no fundamental difference between the belief systems and myths of so-called "primitive" races and those of modern western societies.

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