Jorge Luis Borges and Alfred Métraux: Disagreements, affinities.

Edgardo C. Krebs


 Missing from scholarly studies of Borges’ work are substantial analyses of his interest in anthropology and the way it found carefully meditated expression in his essays and fiction. The common thread was a concern with some of the central subjects of anthropological theory: the possibilities of symbols and language to represent the world, categories of thought, systems of classification and the risks of translation. Alfred Métraux arrived in Argentina in 1928 with the ambitious project of starting a fieldwork-based school of anthropology. I contend that Borges’ adversarial engagement with Métraux’s work led directly to stories like “Dr. Brodie’s Report” and “The Ethnographer.” An inquiry on the tension between fiction and ethnography that runs through these stories sheds new light on the unorthodox history of anthropology in Argentina, and on Métraux’s relationship with Claude Lévi-Strauss.


History of anthropology; Jorge Luis Borges; Alfred Métraux; Claude Lévi-Strauss, Argentina

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau6.2.019