UNESCO pays tribute after death of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss

Claude Lévi-Strauss

3 November 2009 – The world has lost one of its greatest thinkers with the death of Claude Lévi-Strauss, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today, as he paid tribute to the renowned anthropologist.

Mr. Lévi-Strauss was “one of the giants of the 20th century,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General, in a statement issued from the agency’s headquarters in Paris following the announcement of the Frenchman’s death at the age of 100.

“His thoughts changed the way people perceived each other, striking down such divisive concepts as race and opening the way for a new vision based on recognition of the common bond of humanity.

“We mourn his passing, which is a loss to the whole world. But we celebrate his life, which was devoted to enlightenment and understanding through knowledge, built largely out of his insatiable curiosity about his fellow human beings, which took him to some of the most remote corners of the world and definitively changed modern anthropology.”

Mr. Lévi-Strauss had worked closely with UNESCO since its creation and his last public appearance was for an event in Paris to mark the agency’s 60th anniversary in 2005.

“It was UNESCO’s great privilege to have worked with this great man over many decades,” Mr. Matsuura said.

Last year, the UNESCO Courier devoted a special edition to Mr. Lévi-Strauss in honour of his 100th birthday, drawing on audiovisual archives, articles and other publications written by the anthropologist over five and a half decades.

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