Claude Lévi-Strauss on Urban Space Abstract

Miroslav Marcelli



The study focuses on the subject that Lévi-Strauss never devoted himself to in a systematic way. The essence of his view on the urban space can be found in few pages of his travel book Tristes Tropiques (English version is entitled World on the Wane). In spite of this fact, the study tries to show that the opinions on the urban space delivered in this work are important for us to under stand the basis of his method, as well as to get closer to the places where his thinking opens to the new perspectives of the anthropological studies. When analyzing these opinions, we find that on the one hand they confirm the primary trend of his method, which is the orientation towards unconscious models; on the other hand, however, we see the role of collective conscience in a new light. Similarly, we will have to correct the idea about the relation between structures and their demographic substance. In his work La Pensée sauvage (The Savage Mind) Lévi-Srauss presented this relationship as a conflict of two sides, from which the second one, the demographic substance always ends up pre dominating: it decomposes the structural organizations and leads the community to the historical time. Lévi-Strauss’ reflections about the city indicate that the demographical substance could have a different function in his thinking. Thanks to the concentration of a big amount of people, a city can in its organization of space display the unconscious trends of mind. The last part of the study aims to discover in Lévi-Strauss’ opinions on the South American cities the indication of what could be called the anthropology of present or even future times.


anthropology; urban space; unconsciousness; collective consciousness; structure

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: