The law of the jungle according to Claude Lévi-Strauss – L'Express

In unknown writings of youth, Claude Lévi-Strauss draws a universal statement: humans are not made to get along.

Young associate of philosophy, Claude Lévi-Strauss goes to Brazil in 1935. He participates in ethnographic missions in Mato Grosso and the Amazon. He is 27, a sketchbook in one hand and his Leica slung over his shoulder. Silent, reserved to the sayings of his traveling companions, but with the eye on the watch, he has not yet put on the white blouse of the structuralist, the one who dreams of a mathematical ethnology. It is still a man on the ground who discovers on the Brazilian highlands, where the vegetation is scarce and torrential rains, small groups of stray Indians, witnesses of a social life of the most elementary, a bare life which will mark forever his vision of humanity.

This pessimistic vision breaks out in his first articles, of which the publisher of Threshold Vincent Debaene has just gathered the rarest under the title Zero structural anthropology. Published between 1942 and 1949, they were never taken up by the great ethnologist in his theoretical collections. Too descriptive, anecdotal? Those devoted to war among the Nambikwara Indians are however dizzying, offering us a lesson in foreign policy between a few straw huts. Because Indians, like us, must face the fear that an individual arouses from the moment he belongs to another group, another "gang". In a magnificent narrative, the young ethnologist observes how two groups of Nambikwara Indians meet: how they approach each other, gauge each other, challenge each other, after being called from afar by fires worrying. This manifestation and resolution of antagonisms by complex social mechanisms undermines our certainties of modernity, some of being able to evacuate from our lives the difference and unease of otherness by virtue alone.

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