Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

As Claude Lévi-Strauss turns 100, UNESCO Director-General pays tribute to one of the leading thinkers of the 20th century

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has joined in paying tribute to French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss on the occasion of his hundredth birthday on November 28, 2008.

On this occasion, Mr. Matsuura stated, “Claude Lévi-Strauss, one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, has always been very close to the unfolding history of UNESCO. His work, with its humanist message and universal scope, has radically changed our understanding of the world. Interested in all civilizations, he has taught us about the complexity of myths and the diversity of cultures, as well as their fragility. Thanks to him, we know that the wealth of humanity lies in its diversity and its ability always to accept the other.”

According to the press release, on November 16, 2005, alongside other dignitaries, Claude Lévi-Strauss opened the ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of UNESCO. In his speech, he declared, “Cultural diversity and biological diversity are only phenomena of the same kind, they are linked organically, and, every day, we become more aware that on the human scale, the problem of cultural diversity is the reflection of a much wider problem, whose solution is even more urgent, and that is the relationship between humanity and other living species. It is of no use to attempt to resolve the problem on one level if it is not also tackled on the other, as it is so evident that the respect that we wish to obtain from every human being towards cultures that are different from their own, is only a special instance of the respect that should be felt towards all forms of life.”