The Inventiveness of a tradition: Structural anthropology in the Netherlands from an outsider’s perspective

Peter Berger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Leiden structural anthropology achieved international renown through the work of J. P. B. and P. E. de Josselin de Jong and their colleagues and students. In the 1980s, especially after the retirement of P E. de Josselin de Jong in 1988, it grew quiet around this school. This article investigates the status quo of structural anthropology in the Netherlands by focusing on developments in the last twenty years. It is argued that the structural tradition continued, though in less conspicuous ways, because it changed and at the same time retained characteristic features. Old concepts and methods were refined and developed, new emphasis added and current problems approached. Over the decades this inventive process was enhanced by a creative opposition and close but critical cooperation with various waves of French structuralism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-49
Number of pages27
JournalZeitschrift für Ethnologie
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • anthropological theory
  • history
  • methodology
  • structural anthropology
  • the Netherlands

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