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Essay on French Structural Anthropology

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French Structural Anthropology evolved throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and was shaped by many well known theorists, sociologist and anthropologists. Their influence lead to the theories of Structural Marxism and the thought processes involved continue to influence anthropological study in modern times.
Classic cultural anthropology never really took hold in France, thanks to Emile Durkheim. The identity of French anthropology was not an innate departure from its nineteenth century legacy, but instead a continuation of previous theory. Structural anthropology concerns itself with the elements of society and though that are unseen in the social structures, but are in observed social phenomena. Emil Durkhiem was born in 1858 and died in 1917. He was a front runner in the field of sociology, considered by many to be the father of the field. Durkheim did not believe in conflict but rather in a harmonic defined society. Durkheim studied social phenomena in the collective mind, the whole of society, and how society shaped the individual. His theories lead to shape structural anthropology and anthropologists that followed.
Marcel Mauss was Durkheim student, as well as, nephew. He was born 1872, and was a French sociologist. He had a fruitful career, which included collaboration with him uncle, Durkheim. Mauss authority in anthropology did not come from field work or his ethnographic monographs, but rather from his conscientious attention to theoretical issues that lay in the center of many published works. Mauss’ strived to understand structured nature of social coherence, which constructed “total social facts”, which are implications in society in legal, religious, political and economic circles. This ...


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... had become Lono, in pre-colonial Hawaii, a god responsible for fertility and fecundity (Erickson & Murphy,, 1008 121), and would reappear to perform his deity duties the following year. On the opposite end was Obeyesekere, who believed that the Hawaiians were aware of the Europeans intentions of colonization and agriculture.
Structural anthropology has given us many insights in to theory and practices. Many of the leading figures in the development of structuralism were leading French social scientist, not all of them from the field of anthropology. Structuralism is a good example of one group ideas being built upon, be it from Mauss’ thoughts on gift giving, Levi-Strauss thoughts on kinship, to the incorporation of Marxism into anthropology, structuralism may not be as influential today, as it was in the past, but it continues to impact currant anthropology.



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