Former Laureates

Claude Lévi-Strauss

Claude Lévi-Strauss

1973

The 1973 Erasmus Prize was awarded to the French cultural anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009) for original researches into, and acute analyses of, human behaviour and expression, in both primitive and advanced societies. On the basis of the correspondences he had discovered between allied patterns of behaviour, myths and forms of artistic expression, Lévi-Strauss claimed to have discovered a fundamental human cultural infrastructure containing the basic rules of every society. This so-called structuralist theory greatly influenced European thought and was a starting point for many younger researchers in their search for new forms of society. Lévi-Strauss conducted searching investigations into primitive communities. His inspiring and poetic book Tristes Tropiques (1955) describes the life of Brazilian Indians. La Pensée Sauvage (1962) is an investigation into man’s thought in ‘his natural state’, and into myths. His work Mythologiques (1964-68) probes the deepest irrational and mythical roots of human society. The structuralist theory of Claude Lévi-Strauss has greatly influenced thinkers as Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Lacan. As of 1959, Lévi-Strauss worked at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale of the Collège de France.

Professor Claude Lévi-Strauss used his prize-money to finance the project of a group of young researchers: an ethnological research into family ties in European society. Special attention was paid to Lorraine and Burgundy (France), the Valais and the Engadine (Switzerland), Catalonia (Spain) and Trentino (Italy). The results were published in Etudes Rurales, 1979, nrs. 73-76.

Motifs d'attribution

Le Prix Erasme 1973 est attribué a Claude Lévi-Strauss

parce que ses recherches sur le comportement et les modes d'expression de l'homme ont enrichi la science d'analyses originales et pertinentes des constantes de la nature humaine tant dans les sociétés primitives que développées;

parce que sa conception de l'intelligence humaine en tant que donnée objective de la nature a ouvert un vaste champ de réflexion et de controverses, influencant ainsi profondément les attitudes envers ces problèmes fondamentaux;

parce que ses études sur les relations de parenté, sur les mythes et sur les arts ont dégagé les racines profondes de l'être humain communes a tous les ages et toutes les sociétés, offrant ainsi, surtout a la jeune génération, une base de réflexion pour la recherche de formes nouvelles de notre société;

parce qu'il a exposé ses recherches et ses théories dans une langue remarquable et a rapporté ainsi a l'Europe et au monde une nourriture spirituelle et inspiratrice d'une grande élévation de pensee.