Race et histoire claude levi strauss

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LEVI- STRAUSS

RACE AND HISTORY

THE LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES

IE

RACE QUESTION

IN

MODERN SCIENCE

M^4J mOll^JSJL
by

CLAUDE LEVI-STRAUSS

I

lOU

In

I

he same series:

Race and Culture by Michel Lkiris. 46 pp. liacc and Psychology by Otto Klineberg. 39 ]ip. Race and Biology by Leslie C. Dunn. 48 pp. RacialMyths by Juan Comas. 51 pp. The Roots of Prejudice by Arnold M. Rosi:. 41 pp.
In preparation:

Race and Society by Kenneth

L.

Little.

The Significance
Differences

of Racial

by Geoffrey M. Morant.

Price per volume:

$

.25;

1/6;

75

fr.

Price: $-.25; 1/6; 75 fr

THE RACE QUESTION

IN

MODERN SCIENCE

RACE AND
HISTORY
by

Claude Levi-Strauss
Directorof Studies at the Ecole pratique des hautes etudes

UNESCO PARIS

Published by the United Nations Educational, Scientijic and Cultural Organization
19,

avenue Kliber,

Paris-16'^

Printed by G. Thone, Li^ge Copyright 1952 by Unesco, Paris

SS.52.II.

6A

CONTENTS

I.

Race and culture

5

II.

III.

IV.

V.
VI.
VII.

VIII.

The diversity of cultures Theethnocentric attitude Archaic and primitive cultures The idea of progress "Stationary" and "cumulative" history The place of western civilization Chance and civilization
Collaboration

8
11

....

16

.20
24 30 34
41

IX.

between cultures
of progress

X.

The Counter-currents

.... .... ....

46

Bibliography

50

$

746071

I.

RACE AND CULTURE

It

mayseem somewhat
made by

surprising,

in

a

series

of booklets

intended to combat racial prejudice, to speak of the contribuvarious races of men to world civilization. It be a waste of time to devote so much talent and effort to demonstrating that, in the present state of scientific knowledge, there is no justification for asserting that any one race is intellectually superior orinferior to another, if we were, in the end, indirectly to countenance the concept of race by seeming to show that the great ethnic groups constituting human kind as a whole have, as such, made
tions
vs^ould

their

own

peculiar contributions to the

common

heritage.

Nothing could be further from our intentions, for such a course of action would simply result in an inversion of theracist

doctrine.
to

To

attribute

special

psychological

charac-

the biological races, with a positive definition, is as great a departure from scientific truth as to do so with a negative definition. It must not be forgotten that Gobineau, whose work was the progenitor of racist theories, regarded
teristics
titative; in his

"the inequality of the human races" asqualitative, not quanview, the great primary races of early man the white, the yellow and the black differed in their special aptitudes rather than in their absolute value. Degeneration resulted from miscegenation, rather than from the relative position of individual races in a common scale of values; it was therefore the fate in store for all mankind, since all



irrespective of race, was bound toexhibit an increasing intermixture of blood. The original sin of anthropology, however, consists in its confusion of the idea of race, in the purely biological sense (assuming that there is any factual basis for the idea, even in this limited field which is disputed by modern genetics), with the sociological and psychological productions of human civilizations. Once he had made this mistake, Gobineauwas inevitably committed to the path leading from an honest intellectual error to the unintentional justification of all forms of discrimination and

mankind,



exploitation.

speak of the contribuwe do not mean that the cultural contributions of Asia or Europe, Africa or America are in any way distinctive because these continents are, generally speaking, inhabited by peoples of...
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