HAU

Marcel Mauss and the new anthropology. Translated by Alice Elliot.

Valerio Valeri

Abstract


Editor’s Abstract: “One cannot merely refer to Mauss; with him, one must debate.” In this essay, Valerio Valeri takes on precisely this task of critical dialogue with Mauss’ work. Valeri characterizes Mauss as having inaugurated a “new anthropology” that breaks decisively with its predecessors. It does so by engaging seriously with the full diversity of human categories and self-understandings, rather than extending European concepts of humanity as a supposed universal standard against which all others are measured. Valeri tracks a unity of method and theory across Mauss’ essays on magic, the gift, the person, the body, and death, a unity revolving particularly around the problem of relations between collective and individual psychology. Valeri’s article, written in 1966 and informed in part by writings of Lévi-Strauss, is a still-timely synthetic explication of the graceful longevity of Mauss’ oeuvre. It also reads as a charter of Valeri’s own transition to the vocation of anthropology, from advanced study in philosophy. In the humanistic key of Mauss, Valeri advocates an anthropology adequate to the reality that “ ‘other’ civilizations are other menthat are living here and now on this earth, with us: they are not ‘primitive societies,’ they do not belong to our past, but to our present, and to the common future of humanity that is on the road of rediscovering itself in all its parts.”

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau3.1.027