DOCTORAL ADVISOR Talcott Parsons
* Outline * History
* Archaeological * Biological * Cultural * Linguistic * Social
* Aerial * Aviation * Battlefield * Biblical * Bioarchaeological * Environmental * Ethnoarchaeological * Feminist * Forensic * Maritime * Paleoethnobotanical * Zooarchaeological
* Anthrozoological * Biocultural * Evolutionary * Forensic * Molecular * Neurological * Nutritional * Palaeoanthropological * Primatological
* Social * Cultural
* Political economy
* Anthropologists by nationality * Anthropology by year
List of indigenous peoples
* Anthropology portal
* v * t * e
CLIFFORD JAMES GEERTZ (/ɡɜːrts/ ( listen ); August 23, 1926 – October 30, 2006) was an American anthropologist who is remembered mostly for his strong support for and influence on the practice of symbolic anthropology , and who was considered "for three decades...the single most influential cultural anthropologist in the United States." He served until his death as professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study , Princeton .
* 1 Early life * 2 Teaching * 3 Later life * 4 Main ideas and contributions * 5 Philosophical influences * 6 Legacy * 7 Interlocutors
* 8 Major publications
* 8.1 Chronological list of works by
* 9 Honors * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 Further reading * 13 External links
Geertz was born in
He taught or held fellowships at a number of schools before joining
the faculty of the anthropology department at the University of
Chicago in 1960. In this period Geertz expanded his focus on Indonesia
to include both
In 1970, Geertz left Chicago to become professor of social science at
Institute for Advanced Study in
Princeton, New Jersey
From the 1980s to his death, Geertz wrote more theoretical and essayistic pieces, including book reviews for the New York Review of Books . As a result, most of his books of the period are collections of essays, including Local Knowledge (1983), Available Light (2000) and Life Among The Anthros (published posthumously in 2010). He also produced the autobiographical After The Fact (1995) and Works and Lives (1988), a series of short essays on the stylistics of ethnography.
Geertz received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from some fifteen colleges
and universities, including
Harvard University , the University of
Chicago and the
University of Cambridge . He was married first to the
anthropologist Hildred Geertz. After their divorce, he married Karen
Blu, also an anthropologist.
Geertz conducted extensive ethnographical research in Southeast Asia
North Africa . This fieldwork was the basis of Geertz's famous
analysis of the Balinese cockfight among others. He was the director
of the multidisciplinary project Committee for the Comparative Studies
of New Nations while he held a position in Chicago in the 1960s. He
conducted fieldwork in
MAIN IDEAS AND CONTRIBUTIONS
At the University of Chicago , Geertz became a champion of symbolic anthropology , a framework which gives prime attention to the role of symbols in constructing public meaning. In his seminal work The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), Geertz outlined culture as "a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life."
He was one of the earliest scholars to see that the insights provided by common language, philosophy and literary analysis could have major explanatory force in the social sciences. Geertz aimed to provide the social sciences with an understanding and appreciation of “thick description .” Geertz applied thick description to anthropological studies (specifically his own 'interpretive anthropology'), while producing theory that had implications for other social sciences. For example, Geertz asserted that culture was essentially semiotic in nature, and this theory has implications for comparative political sciences.
Geertz argues that to interpret a culture’s web of symbols, scholars must first isolate its elements, specifying the internal relationships among those elements and characterize the whole system in some general way according to the core symbols around which it is organized, the underlying structures of which it is a surface expression, or the ideological principles upon which it is based. It was his view that culture is public, because “meaning is,” and systems of meanings are what produce culture, because they are the collective property of a particular people. We cannot discover the culture’s import or understand its systems of meaning, when, as Wittgenstein noted, “we cannot find our feet with them.” Geertz wants society to appreciate that social actions are larger than themselves; they speak to larger issues, and vice versa, because “they are made to.”
It is not against a body of uninterrupted data, radically thinned descriptions, that we must measure the cogency of our explications, but against the power of the scientific imagination to bring us into touch with the lives of strangers.”
In seeking to converse with subjects in foreign cultures and gain
access to their conceptual world, this is the goal of the semiotic
approach to culture. Cultural theory is not its own master; at the
end of the day we must appreciate, that the generality “thick
description” contrives to achieve, grows out of the delicacy of its
distinctions, not the sweep of its abstraction. The essential task of
theory-building here is not to codify abstract regularities, but to
make thick description possible; not to generalize across cases, but
to generalize within them. Cockfight in
His often-cited essay "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight " is the classic example of thick description , a concept adopted from the British philosopher Gilbert Ryle . Thick description is an anthropological method of explaining with as much detail as possible the reason behind human actions. Many human actions can mean many different things, and Geertz insisted that the anthropologist needs to be aware of this. The work proved influential amongst historians, many of whom tried to use these ideas about the 'meaning' of cultural practice in the study of customs and traditions of the past.
During Geertz's long career he worked through a variety of theoretical phases and schools of thought. In his essay "Ethos, Worldview and the Analysis of Sacred Symbols," published in his 1973 book The Interpretation of Cultures, Geertz wrote that "The drive to make sense out of experience, to give it form and order, is evidently as real and pressing as the more familiar biological needs...", a statement that reflects an early leaning toward functionalism .
Geertz used the concept of thick description from
Gilbert Ryle ,
which comes from ordinary language philosophy . He also used the
concept of family resemblances into anthropology from the
post-analytic philosophy of
He also introduced Alfred Schütz\'s "...distinctions among predecessors, consociates, contemporaries and successors, distinctions that have become commonplace in anthropology" in his wake. Geertz stressed how the links between "consociate-contemporary-predecessor-successor" derive from the "Umwelt - Mitwelt - Vorwelt - Folgewelt" formulation of Schütz's phenomenology .
Geertz's research and ideas had a strong influence on 20th century academia, including modern anthropology and communication studies, and for geographers, ecologists, political scientists, scholars of religion, historians, and other humanists.
University of Miami
* "Religion as a Cultural System". In Anthropological Approaches to
the Study of Religion. Ed. Michael Banton. pp. 1–46. ASA Monographs,
3. London: Tavistock Publications. 1966
* The Religion of
The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), Basic Books 2000 paperback:
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF WORKS BY CLIFFORD GEERTZ
French Edition of Geertz' "Local Knowledge"
* 1957 Ritual and Social Change: A Javanese Example. American
* 1959 Form and Variation in Balinese Village Structure. American
* 1959 The Javanese Village. In Local, Ethnic, and National
Loyalties in Village Indonesia. Ed. G. William Skinner. pp. 34–41.
New Haven: Southeast Asian Program, Yale University.
* 1960 Religion of Java. Glencoe: Free Press.
* 1961 The Rotating Credit Association: A "Middle Rung" in
Development. Economic Development and Cultural Change 10:241-263.
* 1962 Studies in Peasant Life: Community and Society. In Biennial
Anthropology 1961. Ed. Bernard J. Siegal. pp. 1–41.
Stanford: Stanford University Press.
* 1962 The Growth of
* Association for Asian Studies (AAS), 1987 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies
* ^ Geertz, Clifford, Shweder, R. A., & Good, B. (2005). Clifford
Geertz by his colleagues. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
* ^ Geertz, Clifford (2001). Available light: Anthropological
Reflections on Philosophical Topics. Princeton: Princeton University
Press p. 8-9
* ^ A B Geertz, Clifford (2001). Available light: Anthropological
Reflections on Philosophical Topics. Princeton: Princeton University
Press p. 10
* ^ Geertz, Clifford (1956). Religion in Modjokuto: a study of
ritual and belief in a complex society. Harvard.
OCLC 421067853 .
* ^ "
Anthropologist Biographies - Geertz". Indiana.edu. 1926-08-23.
* ^ Geertz, Clifford (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic
Books, p. 89
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J Geertz, Clifford (1973). The Interpretation
of Cultures. Basic Books
* ^ Gilbert Ryle, "The Thinking of Thoughts: What is \'Le Penseur\'
Doing?" Reprinted from 'University Lectures', no.18, 1968, by
permission of the University of Saskatchewan.
* ^ Geertz, Clifford (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures. New
York: Basic Books. p. 140.
* ^ Geertz, Shweder, Good, (2005) p. 68
* ^ Clifford Geertz,
The Interpretation of Cultures (London 1993)
* ^ "
* Geertz, C. (1963). Old societies and new States; the quest for modernity in Asia and Africa. : Free Press of Glencoe. * Griffin, Em. (2012). A First Look At Communication. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Main article: List of important publications in anthropology
* Alexander, J.C. - Smith, P. - Norton, M. eds. (2011). Interpreting Clifford Geertz: Cultural Investigation in the Social Sciences. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. * Inglis, F. (2000). Clifford Geertz: Culture, Custom and Ethics. Cambridge. Polity Press * Lloyd, Christopher (1993).The Structures of History. Blackwell, Oxford.