Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden

Frédéric Keck – Lévi-Strauss and the Anthropology of Masks

Paper presented at the conference “What is a Mask?”, 26-27 January 2017, Royal Institute of Art.

Abstract – Lévi-Strauss and the Anthropology of Masks: From the Split Representation to Mythological Transformations:
“In this talk I will follow what happens in the structural anthropology of masks between the article written by Lévi-Strauss on « split representation » in 1945 and his major book on this issue, The Way of the Masks, published in 1975. During the thirty years that separate these two publications, Lévi-Strauss has renounced the totalistic dream of describing an alternative logic to that of representation, connecting Asia and America, and has described more closely the role of masks in ritual and mythological contexts, particularly on the Northwest coast of America. I will thus interrogate the shift from representation to transformation, which is one of the major intellectual gestures of Lévi-Strauss within Durkheimian anthropology, as it allows him to move away from the symbolic and approach other syntaxes of forms and colours.”

The conference was curated by Catherine Malabou and in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University London.

The conference received generous funding from The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond).