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Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Smithsonian

The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal was presented for conveyance to Claude Lévi-Strauss, who has been called the “father of modern anthropology,” on June 24, 2009 when he was 100 years old. The presentation ceremony was held at the office of the Ambassador of France to the U. S., Pierre Vimont.

Representatives of the Smithsonian who attended were Wilton Dillon, Paul Michael Taylor, and Edgardo Krebs. This occasion was especially poignant since Levi-Strauss died on Nov. 3, 2009, just 25 days before his 101st birthday.

Ties between Lévi-Strauss and the Smithsonian are longstanding. A Frenchman, Lévi-Strauss began collaborative work with the Bureau of American Ethnology (the BAE, now the Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology) in the 1940s. He did field work in South America and contributed to the BAE Handbook of South American Indians. He mentored many Smithsonian scholars. He authored dozens of books and articles, and became internationally known as a public intellectual. Lévi-Strauss himself gave a paper at the James Smithson Bicentennial in 1965 at the invitation of then Secretary S. Dillon Ripley.—Amy E. Levin

Just a few of the classic works by Lévi-Strauss available from the Libraries' catalog:

La voie des masques [French], The way of the masks [English translation]

Du miel aux cendres [French], From honey to ashes [English translation]

Le cru et le cuit [French], The raw and the cooked ; introduction to a science of mythology [English translation]

L'homme nu [French], The naked man [English translation]

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