At the imperial dawn of the 20th century, there was the “civilized” world and the “savage” or “primitive” world, and one felt free to judge the other.
By the century’s end, the whole idea of primitive man as separate from civilized man was pretty well gone. And with it, the “savage mind.”
Much of the banishing was the work of the towering anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. Levi-Strauss has died at 100 in his native France. We are all, he said, driven by deep myth and common structures of thinking — even to our own extinction.
This hour, On Point: The mind and work of Claude Levi-Strauss.
Nur Yalman, professor emeritus of social anthropology at Harvard University. He is also a professor of Middle Eastern Studies and has looked at issues of cultural diversity and international conflict. His 1967 book “Under the Bo Tree: Studies of Caste, Kinship, and Marriage in the Interior of Ceylon” was influenced by Levi-Strauss’s work. Most recently he’s co-author of “A Passage to Peace: Global Solutions from East and West.”
Rosemary Joyce, chair of the anthropology department at the University of California at Berkeley. She is also an archaeologist whose primary work is in Central and South America, with a focus on Honduras. Her books include “Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives” and “Mesoamerican Archaeology: Theory and Practice.”