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From Reciprocity and Hierarchy (1944)

I spent Friday and Saturday discussing the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss at a fine conference organized by Raymond DeMallie and Joëlle Bahloul. This brought me back to an essay that I have long valued. Here is a taste.

A perhaps one-sided analysis of the dual organization has too often put the emphasis on the principle of reciprocity as its main cause and result. It is well to remember that the moiety system can express, not only mechanisms of reciprocity but also relations of subordination. But, even in these relations of subordination, the principle of reciprocity is at work; for the subordination itself is reciprocal: the priority which is gained by one moiety on one level is lost to the opposite moiety on the other. Political primacy has to be paid at the price of a subordinate place in the system of generations.

Claude Lévi-Strauss (1944) “Reciprocity and Hierarchy”


Or perhaps blink.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Teri Klassen #

    By that last sentence does he mean that subsequent generations will condemn or critique those who dominated?
    I agree. it was a fine and stimulating conference.

    October 25, 2010

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