25 feb. 2012

Samson and Delilah

FILM REVIEW
Title: Samson and Delilah
Year: 2009
Director: Warwick Thornton
Writer: Warwick Thornton
Cast: Rowan McNamara, Marissa Gibson
Running time:  minutes  
Country: Australia
Plot summary:
Samson and Delilah's world is small- an isolated community in the Central Australian desert. When tragedy strikes they turn their backs on home and embark on a journey of survival. Lost, unwanted and alone, they discover that life isn't always fair, but love never judges.
Commentaries:
The film was filmed in and around Alice Springs. Described as a "survival love story" by the director, the film depicts two indigenous Australian 14 year olds living in a remote Aboriginal community who steal a car and escape their difficult lives by going to Alice Springs. The film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, winning the Caméra d'Or ('Gold Camera Award' for best first feature film) at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Screen Australia announced on 29 September 2009 that the film has been nominated as Australia's official entry in the Academy Awards best foreign language film category.

© Text and image: Wikipedia and IMDB

19 feb. 2012

Nanyin

Nanyin Music, Ethnikka blog for cultural knowledge
UNESCO CULTURAL HERITAGE 
Nanyin is a musical performing art central to the culture of the people of Minnan in southern Fujian Province along China’s south-eastern coast, and to Minnan populations overseas. The slow, simple and elegant melodies are performed on distinctive instruments such as a bamboo flute called the dongxiao and a crooked-neck lute played horizontally called the pipa, as well as more common wind, string and percussion instruments. Of nanyin’s three components, the first is purely instrumental, the second includes voice, and the third consists of ballads accompanied by the ensemble and sung in Quanzhou dialect, either by a sole singer who also plays clappers or by a group of four who perform in turn. The rich repertoire of songs and scores preserves ancient folk music and poems and has influenced opera, puppet theatre and other performing art traditions. Nanyin is deeply rooted in the social life of the Minnan region. It is performed during spring and autumn ceremonies to worship Meng Chang, the god of music, at weddings and funerals, and during joyful festivities in courtyards, markets and the streets. It is the sound of the motherland for Minnan people in China and throughout South-East Asia.
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
© Text: UNESCO, Image: Culture Bureau of Quanzhou

17 feb. 2012

The Didgeridoo

MUSIC AND INSTRUMENTS 
Name: Didgeridoo 
Origin: Australia 
Comments: 
The didgeridoo is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of northern Australia around 1,500 years ago and still in widespread usage today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or "drone pipe". Musicologists classify it as a brass aerophone.
There are no reliable sources stating the didgeridoo's exact age. Archaeological studies of rock art in Northern Australia suggest that the people of the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory have been using the didgeridoo for less than 1,000 years, based on the dating of paintings on cave walls and shelters from this period. A clear rock painting in Ginga Wardelirrhmeng, on the northern edge of the Arnhem Land plateau, from the freshwater period shows a didgeridoo player and two songmen participating in an Ubarr Ceremony.
A modern didgeridoo is usually cylindrical or conical, and can measure anywhere from 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) long. Most are around 1.2 m (4 ft) long. The length is directly related to the 1/2 sound wavelength of the keynote. Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower the pitch or key of the instrument.
"Didgeridoo" is considered to be an onomatopoetic word of Western invention. There are numerous names for this instrument among the Aboriginal people of northern Australia, with yiaki one of the better known words in modern Western society. Yiaki refers to the specific type of instrument made and used by the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land. However, Yolngu themselves are currently using the synonym mandapul to refer to the instrument.
Authentic Aboriginal didgeridoos are produced in traditionally oriented communities in Northern Australia or by makers who travel to Central and Northern Australia to collect the raw materials. They are usually made from hardwoods, especially the various eucalyptus species that are endemic to the region. Sometimes a native bamboo, such as Bambusa arnhemica, or pandanus is used. Generally the main trunk of the tree is harvested, though a substantial branch may be used instead. Aboriginal didgeridoo craftsmen hunt for suitably hollow live trees in areas with obvious termite activity. Termites attack these living eucalyptus trees, removing only the dead heartwood of the tree, as the living sapwood contains a chemical that repels the insects. Various techniques are employed to find trees with a suitable hollow, including knowledge of landscape and termite activity patterns, and a kind of tap or knock test, in which the bark of the tree is peeled back, and a fingernail or the blunt end of a tool, such as an axe is knocked against the wood to determine if the hollow produces the right resonance.
Once a suitably hollow tree is found, it is cut down and cleaned out, the bark is taken off, the ends trimmed, and the exterior is shaped; this results in a finished instrument. This instrument may be painted or left undecorated. A rim of beeswax may be applied to the mouthpiece end. Traditional instruments made by Aboriginal craftsmen in Arnhem Land are sometimes fitted with a 'sugarbag' mouthpiece. This black beeswax comes from wild bees and has a distinctive aroma.
The didgeridoo is played with continuously vibrating lips to produce the drone while using a special breathing technique called circular breathing. This requires breathing in through the nose whilst simultaneously expelling stored air out of the mouth using the tongue and cheeks. By use of this technique, a skilled player can replenish the air in their lungs, and with practice can sustain a note for as long as desired. Recordings exist of modern didgeridoo players playing continuously for more than 40 minutes; Mark Atkins on Didgeridoo Concerto (1994) plays for over 50 minutes continuously.
Traditionally and originally, the didgeridoo was primarily played as an accompaniment to ceremonial dancing and singing. However, it was also common for didgeridoos to be played for solo or recreational purposes outside of ceremonial gatherings. For surviving Aboriginal groups of northern Australia, the didgeridoo is still an integral part of ceremonial life, as it accompanies singers and dancers in cultural ceremonies that continue. Today, the majority of didgeridoo playing is for recreational purposes in both Indigenous Australian communities and elsewhere around the world.
Pair sticks, sometimes called clapsticks or bilma, establish the beat for the songs during ceremonies. The rhythm of the didgeridoo and the beat of the clapsticks are precise, and these patterns have been handed down for many generations. In the Wangga genre, the song-man starts with vocals and then introduces blima to the accompaniment of didgeridoo.

About Australian Indigenous Music
Indigenous Australian music refers to the music of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Music forms an integral part of the social, cultural and ceremonial observances of these peoples, and has been so for over 60,000 years.
Contemporary Indigenous Australian music has covered numerous styles, including rock and roll, country, hip hop, and reggae. Jimmy Little is regarded as the first Aboriginal performer to achieve mainstream success, with his debut 1964 song "The Royal Telephone" highly popular and successful It would be Yothu Yindi that would bring Indigenous music to the mainstream, with their 1991 song "Treaty", from the album Tribal Voice, becoming a hit. It would go on to reach #11 on the ARIA Singles Chart. The band's performances were based on the traditional Yolngu dance, and embodied a sharing of culture. The success of Yothu Yindi was followed in by Kev Carmody, Tiddas, Christine Anu, and numerous other Indigenous Australian musicians.
Indigenous Australian music is unique, as it dates back more than 60,000 years to the prehistory of Australia and continues the ancient songlines through contemporary artists as diverse as: David Dahwurr Hudson, Jimmy Little, Warumpi Band, Yothu Yindi, Tiddas, Wild Water, Christine Anu, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Saltwater Band, Nabarlek, Nokturnl, the Pigram Brothers, Coloured Stone, Blekbala Mujik, Kev Carmody, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter.

© Text and image: Wikipedia

11 feb. 2012

Mabo

FILM REVIEW 
Title: Mabo 
Year: 2012 (In production) 
Director: Rachel Perkins 
Writer: Sue Smith 
Running time: 120 minutes   
Country: Australia 
Plot summary: 
The telemovie Mabo - is the David and Goliath story of Torres Strait Islander Eddie Koiki Mabo (1936-1992), who spearheaded the High Court challenge that once and for all overturned terra nullius - and resulted in the recognition of native title in Australia.
Eddie Mabo was shocked to discover the (Mer) Murray Island land, passed down to him over 15 generations was not legally his. So began the immense battle to get Australian law to recognise traditional land rights. The 10 year struggle came at great personal cost to Eddie and his family.
The telemovie went into production on October 24 2011 - and will air in 2012.

Mabo - an ABC TV / Blackfella Films telemovie of the true story of one man’s epic fight to change a nation, has attracted some of Australia finest actors.
- Jimi Bani (The Straits, R.A.N.) will star as Eddie Koiki Mabo,
- Deborah Mailman (Offspring, Rush, The Secret Life of Us) will play his wife Bonita,
- Colin Friels (The Eye of the Storm, Bastard Boys),
- William McInnes (East West 101, Curtin),
- Miranda Otto (The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, Cashmere Mafia, South Solitary),
- Ewen Leslie (Love My Way, Kokoda) and
- Tom Budge (Bran Nue Dae, The Pacific, East of Everything).

Mabo Day commemorates the anniversary of the 1992 High Court decision which changed Australia’s political and legal landscape. The decision reversed the notion of terra nullius (no one’s land) which had been in effect since the time of white settlement. (The idea of terra nullius meant that under British law all the land of Australia became Crown land. Aboriginal property rights were ignored as the land belonged to whomever the Crown granted or sold it to.)
Eddie Mabo’s ancestors lived for centuries on a group of three islands in the Torres Strait, near Cape York, known as the Murray Islands. The islands were annexed by the Queensland Government in 1879 and so became part of Australia. This meant that white rule was absolute and the traditional elders had little power.
Little changed, however, in the way of life of the Murray Islanders as a result of this -people continued to live in their settled communities; they maintained their traditional beliefs and customs; there was a clear way of passing on their plots of land, and ways of settling disputes about legal matters. It was into this lifestyle that Eddie Mabo was born.
Edward Koiki Mabo was born in 1936 on Mer Island (or Murray Island) and, after his mother’s death, was given to his mother’s brother and his wife to raise.
From an early age, Koiki was taught about his family’s land.
“…it was handed down from generation to generation,they knew by the boundary lines and markers. There was a certain tree, or stones, heaps of rocks, different trees. They knew exactly where the place was”.
At the age of twenty-three he married Bonita Neehow and went on to raise ten children with her.
1974 proved to be a turning point for Eddie Mabo. During a conversation about his land on Murray Island, he was told that he didn’t own that land, and that it was Crown land. His response was 'No way, it’s not theirs, it’s ours.'
As a result, he and others decided to challenge the claim of terra nullius in the High Court. Central to his argument was the belief that the land had been stolen in the first place. He believed he could achieve justice through the courts.
Eddie Mabo claimed that he was the rightful heir and owner of the land owned by his father on Murray Island.
It would take ten years, and Eddie Mabo would not live to see or hear the result, but in 1992, the High Court brought down its decision. This decision included the words:
“…the Meriam people were entitled as against the rest of the world to the possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of (most of) the land of the Murray Islands in the Torres Strait. In reaching this conclusion a majority of the Court held that the common law of Australia recognises a form of native title; where those people have maintained their connection with the land; and where the title has not been extinguished by acts of Imperial, Colonial, State, Territory or Commonwealth governments”.
In essence, the High Court recognised that Australia was occupied prior to white settlement, and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had native title to these lands.
'Native title' is the term used to describe the common law rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in land according to their traditions, laws and customs. The 1992 decision for the first time recognised the common law rights in land of Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
Native title isn’t a new type of land grant, but a common law right that predates white settlement of Australia. The common law, originally founded on custom and tradition, is the British system of judge-made law, based on precedent, and is over 800 years old.

© Text and image: Wikipedia, Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, Colin R.

5 feb. 2012

Mongolian art of singing: Khoomei

UNESCO CULTURAL HERITAGE 
The Mongolian art of singing: Khoomei, or Hooliin Chor (‘throat harmony’), is a style of singing in which a single performer produces a diversified harmony of multiple voice parts, including a continued bass element produced in the throat. These singers may perform alone or in groups. Khoomei is practised today among Mongolian communities in several countries, especially in Inner Mongolia in northern China, western Mongolia and the Tuva Republic of Russia. Traditionally performed on the occasion of ritual ceremonies, songs express respect and praise for the natural world, for the ancestors of the Mongolian people and for great heroes. The form is reserved for special events and group activities such as horse races, archery and wrestling tournaments, large banquets and sacrificial rituals. The timing and order of songs is often strictly regulated. Khoomei has long been regarded as a central element representing Mongolian culture and remains a strong symbol of national or ethnic identity. As a window into the philosophy and aesthetic values of the Mongol people, it has served as a kind of cultural emissary promoting understanding and friendship among China, Mongolia and Russia, and has attracted attention around the world as a unique form of musical expression.
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
© Text: UNESCO, Image: IMARI

3 feb. 2012

Hawaiian hula

MUSIC AND DANCE
Name: Hula
Origin: Hawaii (Polynesia, USA)
Comments:
Hula is a dance form accompanied by chant (oli) or song (mele). It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The hula dramatizes or portrays the words of the oli or mele in a visual dance form.
There are many sub-styles of hula, with the main two categories being Hula 'Auana and Hula Kahiko.
There are also two main positions of a hula dance - either sitting (noho dance) or standing (luna dance). Some dances utilize both forms.
Hula is taught in schools or groups called hālau. The teacher of hula is the kumu hula, where kumu means source of knowledge, or literally just teacher. Often you will find that there is a hierarchy in hula schools - starting with the kumu (teacher), alaka'i (leader), kokua (helpers), and then the 'olapa (dancers) or haumana (students). Most, if not all, hula hālau(s) have a permission chant in order to enter wherever they may practice. They will collectively chant their entrance chant, then wait for the kumu to respond with the entrance chant, once he or she is finished, the students may enter. One well known and often used entrance or permission chant is Kunihi Ka Mauna.
Hula dancing is a complex art form, and there are many hand motions used to represent the words in a song or chant. For example, hand movements can signify aspects of nature, such as the swaying of a tree in the breeze or a wave in the ocean, or a feeling or emotion, such as fondness or yearning. Foot and hip movements often pull from a basic library of steps including the kaholo, ka'o, kawelu, hela, 'uwehe, and 'ami.

Legendary origins
There are various legends surrounding the origins of hula.
According to one Hawaiian legend, Laka, goddess of the hula, gave birth to the dance on the island of Moloka’i, at a sacred place in Ka’ana. After Laka died, her remains were hidden beneath the hill Pu’u Nana.
Another story tells of Hi’iaka, who danced to appease her fiery sister, the volcano goddess Pele. This story locates the source of the hula on Hawai’i, in the Puna district at the Hā’ena shoreline. The ancient hula Ke Ha’a Ala Puna describes this event.
Another story is when Pele, the goddess of fire was trying to find a home for herself running away from her sister Namakaokaha'i (the goddess of the oceans) when she finally found an island where she couldn't be touched by the waves. There at chain of craters on the island of Hawai'i she danced the first dance of hula signifying that she finally won.
One story is that Pele asked Laka to amuse her because Pele was bored. So right away Laka got up and began to move gracefully, acting out silently events they both knew. Pele enjoyed this and was fascinated. Thus Hula was born.
American Protestant missionaries, who arrived in 1820, denounced the hula as a heathen dance. The newly Christianized ali’i (royalty and nobility) were urged to ban the hula—which they did. However, many of them continued to privately patronize the hula. By the 1850s, public hula was regulated by a system of licensing.
The Hawaiian performing arts had a resurgence during the reign of King David Kalākaua (1874–1891), who encouraged the traditional arts. With the Princess Liliuokalani who devoted herself to the old ways, as the patron of the ancients chants (mele, hula), she stressed the importance to revive the diminishing culture of their ancestors within the damaging influence of foreigners and modernism that was forever changing Hawaii.
Hula changed drastically in the early 20th century as it was featured in tourist spectacles, such as the Kodak Hula Show, and in Hollywood films. However, a more traditional hula was maintained in small circles by older practitioners. There has been a renewed interest in hula, both traditional and modern, since the 1970s and the Hawaiian Renaissance.

Hula Kahiko
Ancient hula, as performed before Western encounters with Hawai’i, is called kahiko. It is accompanied by chant and traditional instruments.
Hula kahiko, often defined as those hula composed prior to 1893 which do not include modern instruments, encompasses an enormous variety of styles and moods, from the solemn and sacred to the frivolous. Many hula were created to praise the chiefs and performed in their honor, or for their entertainment. Types of hula kahiko include ‘āla’apapa, ha’a, ‘olapa, and many others.
Many hula dances are considered to be a religious performance, as they are dedicated to or honoring a Hawaiian goddess or god. As was true of ceremonies at the heiau, the platform temple, even a minor error was considered to invalidate the performance. It might even be a presage of bad luck or have dire consequences. Dancers who were learning to do such hula necessarily made many mistakes. Hence they were ritually secluded and put under the protection of the goddess Laka during the learning period. Ceremonies marked the successful learning of the hula and the emergence from seclusion.
Hula kahiko is performed today by dancing to the historical chants. Many hula kahiko are characterized by traditional costuming, by an austere look, and a reverence for their spiritual roots.
Hawaiian history was oral history. It was codified in genealogies and chants, which were memorized and passed down. In the absence of a written language, this was the only available method of ensuring accuracy. Chants told the stories of creation, mythology, royalty, and other significant events and people.
Traditional female dancers wore the everyday pā’ū, or wrapped skirt, but were topless. Today this form of dress has been altered. Dancers might also wear decorations such as necklaces, bracelets, and anklets, as well as many lei (in the form of headpieces (leipo'o), necklaces, bracelets, and anklets (kupe'e)).
Traditional male dancers wore the everyday malo, or loincloth. They also wore necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and lei.
The materials for the lei worn in performance were gathered in the forest, after prayers to Laka and the forest gods had been chanted.
The lei and tapa worn for sacred hula were considered imbued with the sacredness of the dance, and were not to be worn after the performance. Lei were typically left on the small altar to Laka found in every hālau, as offerings.
Instruments and implements:
Ipu—single gourd drum
Ipu heke—double gourd drum
Pahu—sharkskin covered drum; considered sacred
Pūniu—small knee drum made of a coconut shell with fish skin (kala) cover
‘Ili’ili—water-worn lava stone used as castanets
‘Ulī’ulī—feathered gourd rattles (also ‘ulili)
Pū’ili—split bamboo sticks
Kāla’au—rhythm sticks
The dog's-tooth anklets sometimes worn by male dancers could also be considered instruments, as they underlined the sounds of stamping feet.

Hula ‘auana
Hula as it evolved under Western influence, in the 19th and 20th centuries, is called ‘auana (a word that means "to wander or drift"). It is accompanied by song and Western-influenced musical instruments such as the guitar, the ‘ukulele, and the double bass.
The mele of hula ‘auana are generally sung as if they were popular music. A lead voice sings in a major scale, with occasional harmony parts.
The primary influences were Christian morality and melodic harmony. Hula ‘auana still tells or comments on a story, but the stories may include events since the 1800s. The subject of the songs is as broad as the range of human experience. People write mele hula ‘auana to comment on significant people, places or events or simply to express an emotion or idea.
The costumes of the women dancers are less revealing and the music is heavily Western-influenced.
The musicians performing hula ‘auana will typically use portable acoustic stringed instruments.
‘Ukulele—four-, six- or eight-stringed, used to maintain the rhythm if there are no other instruments
Guitar—used as part of the rhythm section, or as a lead instrument
Steel guitar—accents the vocalist
Bass—maintains the rhythm
Occasional hula ‘auana call for the dancers to use implements, in which case they will use the same instruments as for hula kahiko. You will often see a hula 'auana with the dancers using ‘Ulī’ulī (feathered gourd rattle).

© Text: Wikipedia / Photo: Jordi Canal-Soler



1 feb. 2012

Claude Lévi-Strauss

ANTHROPOLOGISTS OF THE WORLD 
Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908 - 2009) 
Claude Lévi-Strauss (28 November 1908 – 30 October 2009) was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology".
He argued that the "savage" mind had the same structures as the "civilized" mind and that human characteristics are the same everywhere. These observations culminated in his famous book Tristes Tropiques, which positioned him as one of the central figures in the structuralist school of thought, where his ideas reached into fields including the humanities, sociology and philosophy. Structuralism has been defined as "the search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity."
He was honored by universities throughout the world and held the chair of Social Anthropology at the Collège de France (1959–1982); he was elected a member of the Académie Française in 1973.
Claude Lévi-Strauss was born to French parents who were living in Brussels at the time, and grew up in Paris. At the Sorbonne in Paris, Lévi-Strauss studied law and philosophy. In 1935, after a few years of secondary-school teaching, he took up a last-minute offer to be part of a French cultural mission to Brazil in which he would serve as a visiting professor of sociology at the University of São Paulo while his wife, Dina, served as a visiting professor of ethnology.
The couple lived and did their anthropological work in Brazil from 1935 to 1939. During this time Claude undertook his only ethnographic fieldwork. He accompanied Dina, a trained ethnographer in her own right to a conducted research foray into the Mato Grosso and the Amazon Rainforest. They first studied the Guaycuru and Bororo Indian tribes, staying among them for a couple of days. In 1938 they returned for a second, more than half-year-long expedition to study the Nambikwara and Tupi-Kawahib societies. At this time his wife suffered an injury that prevented her from completing the study, which he concluded. This experience cemented Lévi-Strauss's professional identity as an anthropologist.
He returned to France in 1939 but had to escape from the Vichy government to Martinique, from where he was finally able to travel on. In 1941, he was offered a position at the New School for Social Research in New York, and granted admission to the United States. Along with Jacques Maritain, Henri Focillon, and Roman Jakobson, he was a founding member of the École Libre des Hautes Études, a sort of university-in-exile for French academics. Lévi-Strauss returned to Paris in 1948. At this time he received his doctorate from the Sorbonne by submitting, in the French tradition, both a "major" and a "minor" thesis. These were The Family and Social Life of the Nambikwara Indians and The Elementary Structures of Kinship.

His works
The Elementary Structures of Kinship was published the next year and quickly came to be regarded as one of the most important anthropological works on kinship. Lévi-Strauss argued that kinship was based on the alliance between two families that formed when women from one group married men from another.
Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, Lévi-Strauss continued to publish and experienced considerable professional success. On his return to France, he became involved with the administration of the CNRS and the Musée de l'Homme before finally becoming professor (directeur d'études) of the fifth section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études
While Lévi-Strauss was well known in academic circles, in 1955 he became one of France's best known intellectuals by publishing Tristes Tropiques (1955). Essentially, this book was a memoir detailing his time as a French expatriate throughout the 1930s, and his travels. Lévi-Strauss combined exquisitely beautiful prose, dazzling philosophical meditation, and ethnographic analysis of the Amazonian peoples to produce a masterpiece.
Lévi-Strauss was named to a chair in Social Anthropology at the Collège de France in 1959. At roughly the same time he published Structural Anthropology, a collection of his essays which provided both examples and programmatic statements about structuralism. At the same time as he was laying the groundwork for an intellectual program, he began a series of institutions to establish anthropology as a discipline in France, including the Laboratory for Social Anthropology where new students could be trained, and a new journal, l'Homme, for publishing the results of their research.
In 1962, Lévi-Strauss published what is for many people his most important work, La Pensée Sauvage (The Savage Mind). The book concerns primitive thought, forms of thought all humans use. The first half of the book lays out Lévi-Strauss's theory of culture and mind, while the second half expands this account into a theory of history and social change. This latter part of the book engaged Lévi-Strauss in a heated debate with Jean-Paul Sartre over the nature of human freedom. On the one hand, Sartre's existentialist philosophy committed him to a position that human beings fundamentally were free to act as they pleased. On the other hand, Sartre also was a leftist who was committed to ideas such as that individuals were constrained by the ideologies imposed on them by the powerful. Lévi-Strauss presented his structuralist notion of agency in opposition to Sartre.
Now a worldwide celebrity, Lévi-Strauss spent the second half of the 1960s working on his master project, a four-volume study called Mythologiques. In it, he followed a single myth from the tip of South America and all of its variations from group to group up through Central America and eventually into the Arctic Circle, thus tracing the myth's cultural evolution from one end of the Western hemisphere to the other. He accomplished this in a typically structuralist way, examining the underlying structure of relationships among the elements of the story rather than by focusing on the content of the story itself. While Pensée Sauvage was a statement of Lévi-Strauss's big-picture theory, Mythologiques was an extended, four-volume example of analysis. Richly detailed and extremely long, it is less widely read than the much shorter and more accessible Pensée Sauvage, despite its position as Lévi-Strauss's masterwork.
Lévi-Strauss completed the final volume of Mythologiques in 1971. On 14 May 1973 he was elected to the Académie Française, France's highest honour for an intellectual. He was a member of other notable academies worldwide, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He received the Erasmus Prize in 1973, the Meister-Eckhart-Prize for philosophy in 2003, and several honorary doctorates from universities such as Oxford, Harvard, and Columbia. He also was the recipient of the Grand-croix de la Légion d'honneur, was a Commandeur de l'ordre national du Mérite, and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. After his retirement, he continued to publish occasional meditations on art, music, and poetry.
He died on 30 October 2009, a few weeks before his 101st birthday.

© Text and photo: Wikipedia

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