A Knight and Marshall, both: New honors for Sahlins

October 25, 2011
By

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Marshall Sahlins—globally renowned ethnographer, Polynesian historian, and the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus) at the University of Chicago—has had quite a series of weeks.
First came notice from the French Ministry of Culture, helmed by Frédéric Mitterand: Sahlins has been named a Chevalier des Arts et des Letters (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters), an honorary position that commends artists, scholars, and others who have contributed “to the enrichment of French culture.”
In addition, Sahlins is set to receive not one—but, two—honorary doctorates, from the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics.
In addition, the Sorbonne will host a daylong conference on Monday, November 14, 2011, in celebration of Sahlins and his work, featuring contributions from sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers from around the world.
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The author of numerous books (an assortment of which have been translated into French,
including The Western Illusion of Human Nature), Sahlins is also the executive publisher of Prickly Paradigm Press. Among those books of Sahlins published by the University of Chicago Press are Culture and Practical Reason, winner of the Gordon J. Laing Prize; How Natives “Think”: About Captain Cook, For Example; Islands of History; Apologies to Thucydides: Understanding History as Culture and Vice Versa; and the two-volume Anahulu: The Anthropology of History in the Kingdom of Hawaii (coauthored with Patrick V. Kirch).
Sahlins personal ties to France are notable—in the late 1960s, he experienced the May 1968 student protests firsthand, while studying with anthropologist and ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss at his Laboratoire at the College de France. Later, Sahlins returned as the sole American participant in the ceremonies celebrating Lévi-Strauss’s 100th birthday in 2009.
Quipped Sahlins in acknowledgement of the honors:

“I think I am the Jerry Lewis of French anthropology. The French love me, and the Americans can’t understand why.”

ynzalxogej.11913.20111020.jpg Photo by Alan Thomas

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