Discrimination Racism

Download We Are All Cannibals: And Other Essays by Claude Lévi-Strauss PDF

By Claude Lévi-Strauss

We're All Cannibals: And different Essays, trans. Jane Marie Todd, Columbia collage Press, 2016

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Additional resources for We Are All Cannibals: And Other Essays

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This is the equivalent of insemination postmortem. An even clearer case is the “ghost marriage” of the Nuer of Sudan: if a man died a bachelor or without offspring, a close relative could take enough of the deceased’s livestock to purchase a wife. He would then produce a son (whom he considered his nephew) in the name of the deceased. Sometimes that son would in turn perform the same function vis-àvis his biological father—legally, his uncle. The children he produced would therefore legally be his cousins.

Instead of relegating the accused to some subhuman state, thereby unwittingly validating racial prejudices, we should endeavor to show that practices that are meaningless within one cultural order may be SOCIAL PROBLEMS 41 meaningful in another. —that only one (ours, of course) conveys universal values and must be imposed on all. There are no grounds for punishing, in the name of a particular moral code, people who are simply following practices dictated by a different code. Does that mean we must tolerate them?

How are we to explain the characteristic that all these innovations have in common? We might attempt to solve the problem case by case. Japan has little iron ore, and a saw that is pulled requires a thinner piece of metal than the other kind: reasons of economy, therefore. But would the same argument be valid for the drawknife? And how could it be applied to 22 PA R T 2: WE ARE ALL CANNIBALS, 1989–2000 the different ways of threading a needle and of sewing, which, however, proceed on the same principle?

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