Luis Zaldivar Seminar in Anthropology Final Draft Clifford Geertz, a Very Long Epitaph Clifford Geertz (1926-2006

) was an American scholar regarded as one of the main representatives of the interpretative school of anthropology. Even though he is exhaustively cited in anthropological literature, no official biography exists; his memoir, published six years before his death, is in merely one chapter of biographical highlights plus a collection of essays where he discusses philosophical issues in anthropology. As a result, those interested in Geertz’ ideas as a whole are left with the choice of reading all of his literature, or reading a synopsis in an introductory anthropology textbook. This paper is an attempt to solve this dilemma, as it discusses Geertz’ ideas and influence chronologically, showing how and why his ideas came about. Most importantly, I have divided Geertz’ career into four different periods corresponding to different publications and stages of his intellectual development. The first section introduces the reader to the way Clifford Geertz became an anthropologist. The second, titled after the decade on which takes place (the 1960’s), discusses his work between his first major publication and his major theoretical contributions. The third, arguably the most important, discusses his works published in the 1970’s, which have had the most impact on the field of anthropology. Finally, the fourth section is concerned with his later contributions and his life until his death. Hopefully, this format helps the reader to understand Geertz’ intellectual development and makes it easier to understand why he has had such an impact in the field. Without further due, this is where Geertz’ journey begins.

The Journey to Anthropology Clifford Geertz was born in 1926 in San Diego. As most people of his generation, Geertz spent his early years getting through the economic meltdown of the depression. Then, at the age of 18, he went to fight fascism in World War II. In 1945, the detonation of the atomic bomb put an end to what could have been a military invasion of Japan, letting young Geertz free to join civilian life to pursue his personal ambitions outside of the military. As a WWII veteran, Geertz benefited from the GI bill, a government program that invested heavily in the education of veterans (Geertz 2000, 4). Having grown up in rural California during the depression, Geertz had not supposed he would be able to go to college, so he had no clue how to respond to this newfound opportunity (Geertz 2000, 4). Following the advice of a high school teacher, he enrolled in Ohio’s Antioch College, with the hopes of getting a degree in English and become a novelist (Geertz 2000, 4). In Antioch, his scattered intellectual interests were reflected in his course choices, where he took classes on every field of the liberal arts program (Geertz 2000, 6). As a result of his determination to understand more than just novels, he dropped from his intentions of becoming a writer and switched to Philosophy. Geertz graduated in 1950; however, Geertz found himself again dissatisfied with his academic choice, this time because he considered Philosophy to be “too abstract”, and he wanted to be more “empirical” (Handler 1991, 603). After graduation, he met the celebrated anthropologist Margaret Mead through a common acquaintance, who introduced him to anthropology. In their 5-hour encounter, Mead showed Geertz notes from her fieldwork in Bali and talked to him about the kind of work she did. Provoked by the apparent freedom of anthropology, Cliff decided that taking the path of the social sciences was the most appropriate thing for him; after all, he claimed, “[you can] do anything and call it Anthropology” (Handler 1991, 603). That very year, Geertz joined the Social Relations Department of Harvard to be trained in Anthropology instead of following a career as a philosopher. As part of the Social Relations Department, Geertz was obligated to take classes in each of the four subfields that Harvard offered: sociology, social psychology, clinical psychology and social anthropology. In the “academic maelstrom” (Geertz 1995, 101) of Harvard, the one thing that distinguished the path of social anthropology from the other subfields was the expectation for fieldwork. Unlike the other, purely academic disciplines, anthropologists had a final rite of passage to go through at the end of the journey (Geertz 2000, 8-9). In 1952, a project focused

on small towns in Indonesia offered him the opportunity for fieldwork researching religion in Java. His wife Hildred –whom he married in 1948 and divorced in 1981-, was also part of this project, researching family ties while he focused in religion. For the next four years, Geertz worked on his dissertation recording and analyzing religion and its interaction with other aspects of society in Modjokuto, a small town in Java. In 1956, he obtains his Ph.D and spent the next four years teaching at Harvard and –brieflyBerkley while doing further research on Java. The result of all this work was his first major publication titled The Religion of Java, in 1960. The Religion of Java Geertz’ background on Philosophy and English did not disturb his capacity of analysis. In The Religion of Java, Cliff not only recorded the beliefs, rituals, and other expressions of religion of his fieldwork site, but also accounted for the interaction between religion and politics, formalized education, folk tradition, etc, that are central to understanding the role of religion in society, The main argument of the book, however, is that even though Java is more than 90% Muslim, Geertz identified three “variants” of Islam that have emerged due to the cultural flux of Javanese history. The three variants are: (1) Abangan, practiced mostly in small villages and constitute “the island’s true folk religion” (Geertz 1960, 5) (2) Santri, practiced by the most religious segment of the population, and more focused on doctrine (Geertz 1960, 5) (3)Priyayi, mostly practiced by the bureocratic conservative elite, and is influenced by Hinduism within it. While united under the label “Muslim”, Geertz argued that religion of Java was not a coherent body of uniform practices, but a stew of traditions that are the result from a plural cultural background (Geertz 1960) The contemporary importance of the Religion of Java is not its description of the religious beliefs in Indonesia –as they have changed greatly in the last 40 plus years, but that it set a standard for how religion should be understood and analyzed. With this work, Geertz started a career advocating for the study of diversity of societies, separating his style from the clearly defined boundaries that many before him drew for religion and other cultural systems. The following quote, together with a notable essay published in 1966 titled “Religion as a Cultural System”, could very well sum up his thoughts on religious studies: [Java] is not easily characterized under a single label or easily pictured in terms of a dominant theme. It is particularly true that in describing the religion of such a complex

civilization as the Javanese any simple unitary view is certain to be inadequate; and so I have tried… to show how much variation in ritual, contrast in belief, and conflict in values lie concealed behind the simple statement that Java is 90 per cent Moslem. If I have chosen, consequently, to accent the religious diversity in contemporary Java… my intention has not been to deny the underlying religious unity of its people or, beyond them, of the Indonesian people generally, but to bring home the reality of the complexity, depth, and richness of their spiritual life” (Geertz 1960, 7) The Religion of Java was the product of the journey to Anthropology from a prospect of a novelist to the author of one of the most important contributions in Javanese religious studies. The reason why I have presented my discussion of this work in this first section and not in the following, titled “The Sixties”, is because The Religion of Java is based on his dissertation of 1956, making this book a product of his work on the decade before its publication. Furthermore, I truly feel that this work marks the transition from the philosopher to the anthropologist, from the student to the master, and –most importantly- from the author to the icon. For the rest of his life, Clifford Geertz would embrace and perfect the style with which he wrote The Religion of Java. If tragedy would have prevented him from continuing his work, he would still have been relevant and discussed by social scientists and Javanese scholars because of this book. The next few sections will build up in this antecedent, incredibly until the end of his career.

The Sixties In 1960, while the publication of The Religion of Java was taking place, Geertz started to feel overwhelmed with the size and rigorousness of the Anthropology department at Berkley ( Handler 1991,606); consequently, he took a faculty position in the University of Chicago, where he was given considerably more time to do research –which he preferred- (Handler 1991, 606). Through the next ten years, Geertz used the freedom of movement that Chicago gave him to do further fieldwork in Indonesia and Morocco, while at the same time spending considerable time changing the academic profile of the university. Although most of his theoretical work would wait until the 1970’s, Geertz’ publications in the Sixties have had strong influence within and outside Anthropology, which I discuss below. It could be said, however, that none of these works in the Sixties was as important as his influence in the Anthropology department of the University of Chicago. Along with his colleagues, Geertz switched the emphasis of the department from the structural-functionalist approach to a German historicism and what would later be called interpretative Anthropology. Geertz would later reflect on the University of Chicago when he got there as “the most British

American Anthropology department” (Handler 1991, 607) which is understandable considering that this university was the home of the holy grail of British Anthropology, Radcliffe Brown. Geertz vs. Structural Functionalism The aggressive stance that Geertz took on changing the academic program at Chicago was not a spontaneous frenzy that either began or stopped with his time there. He spent a considerable amount of time through his career writing and speaking against the British functionalist approach to the social science. Social discourse, he believed, was not to be measured or accounted for the same way that a biologist or a physicist could measure objective data; instead, he moved Anthropology to a science of interpretation, where data-gathering, hypothesis-testing, quantitative methods, etc, could only speculate about the supposed function of cultural practices, but could not account for the meaning they have for its members (Handler 1991, 607) (Geertz 1973, 5). Most importantly, Geertz did not believe that societies “functioned” or formed a definite “structure”. He believed that “nothing has done more.. to discredit cultural analysis that the construction of impeccable depictions of formal order in whose actual existence nobody can quite believe” (Geertz 1973, 18). Instead, Geertz saw societies as a fluctuation of behaviors held together by their culture –a term he had a specific meaning that I will come back to later-, but are not absolute subject to it. Instead of taking the outsiders’ view –what anthropologists call “etic” view-, Geertz preferred to take the insider –or “emic” point of view, and understand how people understood their culture. This approach approach helped deal with change and deviant behavior more effectively than the British approach. In addition, it is important to point out that the so called functionalists and structuralfunctionalists usually had a background in the hard sciences, while Geertz’ background was in the humanities. More explicitly, Geertz attempted to move Anthropology from a natural science to an interpretative science, where the task of the scientist is much more like that of the literary critic, trying to decipher the meaning of a manuscript (Geertz 1973, 9-10). Nevertheless, Geertz was not fond of associating Anthropology within the Humanities either, he believed that “grand [academic] rubrics… have their uses in organizing curricula, in sorting scholars into cliques and professional communities, and in distinguishing broad traditions of intellectual style… but when these rubrics are taken to be a boards-and-territories map of modern intellectual life… they merely block the front view of what is really going on out there” (Geertz 1983, 7)

While revolutionizing American Anthropology in one of its top universities, Geertz was still doing fieldwork and publishing about Indonesian religion and society. In 1963, he published Peddles and Princes, where he returned to his dissertation topic. That very same year, he dramatically changes topics to write Agricultural Involution, the Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia. Agricultural Involution and Historical Account The publication of Agricultural Involution was, in retrospective, an unusual moment in a scholar’s career. Up until 1963, and after that, Geertz worked on religion, kinship, markets, academic theory, the state, and even philosophy, all cultural institutions or theoretical proposals; yet, Agricultural Involution was concerned with agricultural techniques and the application of social theory to a specific problem. According the Geertz, he wrote this book because he felt that the economists working on agricultural issues in Pare (the Indonesian town where the book takes place) did not understand the way agriculture had evolved to what it was at the time. Geertz argued that western economists were trying to apply a foreign model to villages that had evolved from an agricultural background different from those in the west, rendering it ineffective (Handler 1991, 605). Geertz’ model, on the other hand, experimented with a new way to present history. Geertz thought that, instead of being affected from foreign technology or the environment, Pare’s agricultural structure changed from within, simply becoming more complicated. (Davis 2005, 43).This new way of understanding change and progress adds up to Geertz ideas of historical account being better understood from the insiders’ (emic) perspective than from an etic perspective. Geertz believed that “change is not a parade that can be watched as it passes” (Geertz 1995, 4). In 1964, Geertz started a project to study religious life in four different Indonesian towns. Unfortunately, civil war erupted in Indonesia and he had to spend a whole year in Bali; as a result, he decided to focus in Bali and wrote Person, Time and Conduct in Bali: An Essay in Cultural Analysis, which did not see its publication until 1966. In 1965, Geertz decided that Indonesia was too dangerous and decides to take a break from research there to focus somewhere else. During the\is period of indecision, a colleague recommended Morocco to him as a good place for him to carry out his fieldwork; Morocco,he said, was also “Islamic but calm”, even though it had “authoritarian tendencies” (Handler 1991, 610). Geertz took his advice and carried his fieldwork in Morocco for the next 2 years (Handler 1991, 610).The outcome of this

first experience with Morocco was Islam Observed, an analysis of how Islam is practiced differently in Morocco than it is in Indonesia. Islam Observed and Islam expanded In Islam Observed, Geertz argued that the sociological differences between Indonesia and Morocco (such as their different economies, politics, social stratification, etc), had produced two different breeds of the same religion. The exercise of contrasting his experience with religion in Indonesia and Morocco brought a new life to the study of Islam. Islamic scholar Dale Eickelman has even claimed that the ethnographic examples and interpretations posed in Islam Observed have changed the way Islamic scholars see religious practices in general (Davis 2005, 63). Further, Eickleman (Eickelman 2005, 70-72)–in an essay remembering Geertz’ contribution to Islam- points out four different ways on which Islam Observed – as well as his other works on religion- changed Islamic studies: 1. Geertz recognized religious debate as an integrated part of contemporary society, not a fading characteristic. Western scholars, in general, tended to see religious discourse as a weakening feature doomed to disappear due to the advances of technology and/or globalization (a theory sometimes called modernization theory). Geertz insisted that religion as idea and practice still mattered, and that “modernization theory” deflected attention away from the role of religion in contemporary societies. 2. Quantitative methods to account for Islam –such as statistical analysis of practitioners of a certain ritual, were relegated to a second realm. Instead, Geertz captured religious diversity and meaning by recording and interpreting everyday life, starting a new wave of religious studies where Islam was lived not simply performed by the believers. 3. Islam Observed, as well as The Religion of Java, and others, switched the focus of Islamic studies from urban areas to small villages. Before Geertz, the trend of studying urban Islam was in line with the “self-image of traditionally educated religious scholars throughout the Muslim majority as the “guardians” of faith and religious tradition”. 4. Geertz definition of culture [discussed later on this paper] has surpassed the anthropological use and is now widely used in Islamic studies. The “new framework of social thought” that Geertz gave has pervaded studies of Islam; thinking about religion

as a “cultural system”, started a dialogue between researches of Islamic scholars and anthropologists that has characterized Islamic studies until today. In short, Geertz not only observed Islam, but expanded its conception by contextualizing its practices and getting scholars to swift attention from the urban Muslim elites to the religious discourse of the villages. Even though Islam Observed was his only work on Islam in itself, many of the concepts, ideas, and arguments that Geertz proposed through the rest of his career has been embraced by Islamic scholars as important contribution s to their field. Religious studies, Eickelman claims, have a set of “theoretical assumptions” that help us embody complex traditions (Eickelman 66). Without a doubt, Geertz was one of the best at creating such frameworks, in anthropology as well as Islam. The end of The Sixties came at a time where Clifford Geertz, now a mature family man, was enthusiastically carrying fieldwork in Morocco, giving lectures at all of the major universities in the English speaking world and having accomplished a full restructuration of the University of Chicago. However, his most important intellectual achievements were still ahead, as he was getting ready to leave Chicago and start publishing the lectures he had been giving in the late Sixties about the theoretical foundations of Anthropology. Behind was his work on Javanese religion, agricultural systems, traditional Islamic practices and university reform; ahead, there was thick description, cultural systems, interpretative Anthropology, and –not less relevantPrinceton.

The Seventies In 1970, Geertz decided that his schedules at the University of Chicago where not suitable for the frequent fieldwork he wanted to carry on in Morocco, where he was working with his wife Hildred on a variety of topics, and decided to leave Chicago –not before making sure a Moroccan research project was first established(Geertz 1995, 120). His new choice was to accept an invitation from Princeton to direct the Social Science school –the first of its kind- at the Institute for Advanced Studies. “The first two years”, Geertz later recalled, were nothing but a “struggle to find my feet in what I soon discovered was an extremely tense and increasingly obsessive community”. This only got worse when Geertz appointed Robert Bellah, a sociologist, to be the second professor; “for nearly two years the Institute was convulsed in a struggle so bitter that it became… a cause célèbre of major proportions” (Geertz 1995, 124). Nevertheless, he went ahead with the formation of the Social Science school where he would stay for the rest of his career, later becoming an emeritus professor. The irregularities of the Institute for

Advance Studies at Princeton might actually have played well with the personality of the anthropologist, who seemed to enjoy the “unsettled intellectual field” (Geertz 1995, 133). With constant changes in faculty and never ending “tooling up of the Institute”, Geertz affirmed “our irregular school has proved an excellent place to observe the commotion and try out ways of staying upright within it”, which seems an overall positive mental image of the Institute. With Geertz there, the Institute became a harbor for strictly interpretative Social Sciences, embracing his methodology and style as its hallmark, even to the point where other approaches or perspectives were not to be taught at the same time as the interpretative approach. Geertz preferred to choose “themes” every year, where a distinct topic or perspective was discussed, but never was he fond of teaching different ways of analyzing cultures at the same time (Handler 1991, 611). In 1973, Geertz collected his most important lectures and essays where he discussed interpretative anthropology in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. This book was not only the most important work of his career, but the guideline for the Institute in next few decades. If someone was to name a publication that could be considered the base for semiotic or interpretative anthropology, it would be The Interpretation of Cultures. In The Interpretation of Cultures, Geertz offers the basis for his approach to analyzing “cultural systems”. In fact, “cultural systems” was one of the terms that he coined in The Interpretation of Cultures, and would expand to a series of essays for he wrote during his career. The importance of this work is further exemplified by the title of his legendary opening essay: Thick Description: Toward an Interpretative Theory of Culture. Obviously, Geertz knew that he was writing towards something big when he published it, and he was not mistaken. All of the essays in this book are necessary for a complete understanding of Geertz; however, I think that his discussions the concepts of culture, as well as “thick description”, are of the most important contributions to anthropology as a discipline. Culture for the Semiotic Clifford Geertz is very often quoted for the definition of culture that he gives on Thick Description, on page five of The Interpretation of Cultures: The concept of culture I espouse, and whose utility the essays below attempt to demonstrate, is essentially a semiotic one. Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning (Geertz 1973, 5)

The other, less quoted, definition of culture that he gives, is found later in the book: [Culture is] a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about and their attitudes toward life (Geertz 1973, 89) Both definitions give a great deal of power to the idea of symbols, and what their role is in shaping human behavior. It is not surprise that interpretative anthropology is often called semiotic or symbolic anthropology. Semiotics is the study of symbols, and symbols are things that stand for or represent another by cultural or social construct (Bowie 2006, 36). According to Geertz and other interpretative or semiotic anthropologists, “a culture” is characterized by a unified body of symbols that a society shares. For instance, Geertz would say that American culture in the 1950’s was characterized by the symbols of patriotism (flag, bald eagle, etc), family (embodied in the picture of the household), Christianity, the “blue collar worker”, and others. This emphasis on symbols is crucial to semiotic anthropology because it gives the researcher a fundamental task: finding the meaning of symbols. “It is explication I am after”, Geertz wrote after defining culture in Thick Description in what could very well have been his epitaph. It was explication, and not categorization that was the main purpose of his work. It would have been impossible for Geertz to look for explication if he understood culture to be a grouping of practices or objects that only need recording or counting. It is the semiotic concept of culture that made his work possible, and it is this model that persists among his intellectual descendants until today. Thick Description As stated here before, probably the most important essay in Geertz’ literature is the first chapter of The Interpretation of Cultures, titled Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture. Thick description is not only central to understand Geertz’ ideas, but it also encapsulates the essence of the more humanistic side of anthropology. The term itself “thick description” has its origin in Gilbert Ryle use of it to describe what Le penseur –the thinker- is doing when he “thinks”. Geertz used this term not to describe what “the thinker” does, but to describe what the ethnographer does. According to Geertz, ethnography –the recording and analysis of information gathered by the anthropologist in the field- is “an elaborate venture in ‘thick description’”(Geertz 1973, 6), where the ethnographer records his or her own interpretation of a certain event, or gathers someone else’s interpretation of a certain behavior,

to then sort out “the structures of signification”, more or less the same way a literary critic tries to read a manuscript, only that this time the manuscript is “foreign, faded, full of ellipses, incoherencies, suspicious emendations, and tendentious commentaries… written not in conventionalized graphs of sound but in transient examples of shaped behavior”(Geertz 1973, 10). In Thick Description, Geertz developed his argument against cognitive anthropology, which claims that culture is “composed of psychological structures by means of which individuals or groups of individuals guide their behavior” (Geertz 1973, 11). Geertz believed that this “fallacy” is drawn from the mistaken assumption that you can understand culture by simply knowing its parts, and that you can measure them with the methods similar to those of mathematics and logic (Geertz 1973, 10-11). Geertz’ approach, on the other hand, understands culture to be public, and behavior to be meaningless until it is contextualized by its culture. In other words, he rejected behaviorism (culture as a collection of behaviors), and idealism (ethnography as an effort to understand what the “natives really think”), to favor thick description, which in this context could be described as the understanding of culture as “webs of meaning” and ethnography as interpretation of those webs. As part of Thick Description, Geertz also attacks the previous notion that ethnography is an attempt to see the world from “the native’s point of view”. Even though interpretative anthropology is much more emic (insider) than functionalist or structural approaches, Geertz understood that an ethnographic account “does not rest on its author’s ability to capture primitive facts in faraway places and carry them home”, but to “reduce the puzzlement ... to which unfamiliar acts emerging out of unknown backgrounds naturally give rise” (Geertz 1973, 16). This, naturally, gives anthropological literature an element of narrative about what the ethnographer saw, heard, smelled or touched during his or her fieldwork. Thus, thinking of anthropology as “native discourse”, to say the least, becomes naïve. Thick Description is, to sum up, an exercise of distancing anthropology from the systematization of the hard sciences and making it an interpretative approach, where a multitude of researchers study the same topics and with similar “data” to come up with readings that build up one on top of another (Geertz 1973, 25). However, Geertz also rejected subjectivism, arguing that ethnography should always be tied to concrete social discourse and organized around theoretical formulations. According to Geertz, “cultural analysis is (or should be) guessing at meanings, assessing the guesses, and drawing explanatory conclusions from

the better guesses, not discovering the Continent of Meaning and mapping out its bodiless landscape” (Geertz 1973, 20). In 1975, surprisingly only two years after The Interpretation of Cultures, Clifford and his wife Hildred went back to Indonesia to finish the work that she started while he was working on The Religion of Java. This time, the outcome was Kinship in Bali, published the same year, where they discuss family ties and meaningful relationships in Bali’s society. For the next four years, the couple joined forces with the anthropologist Lawrence Rosen to analyze different aspects of Moroccan society. In 1979, Meaning and Order in Moroccan Society was published, which turned out to be a groundbreaking effort in applying interpretative anthropology to the field. Geertz’ section, Suq: the bazaar economy in Sefrou, analyzed the street markets in Morocco and the many cultural systems that interplay in their formation (Geertz 1979). This work showed that interpretative anthropology could still be empirical and objective. In 1980, Geertz published Negara: the Theatre State in 19th Century Bali, his last book about Indonesia. This book marks the end of another era, as Geertz would not publish any other major publications with his own ethnographic effort, and starts a new –more reflective and scholarly- period of intellectual outup dedicated mainly to discussing theory. The Seventies, however, would be remembered as the decade when he published his most important work and gained the renown that he retained until his death.

Later Works Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Geertz continued to work in Princeton, mentoring graduate students, giving and attending lectures on all sorts of anthropological issues as well as Indonesian an Islamic studies, and of course enjoying the benefits of international recognition for his scholarly work. In 1983, he published what he considered to be the continuation of The Interpretation of Cultures, titled Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretative Anthropology. In this essays no new ideas were presented, but we can find supplementary examples and theoretical reflections on a variety of anthropological topics. Local Knowledge was described by Geertz as a “dialectical movement between looking at things in a lawyer’s terms and anthropological terms”(Geertz 1983, 15), as he approached abstract concepts such as art, common sense, “modern” as well as “social” thought, and others in their cultural context. More importantly, he continued the “cultural system” series, by contextualizing certain aspects of society and make them available in anthropological terms.

In 1984, Geertz published a distinguished lecture in American Anthropologist titled Anti Anti-Relativism. In this classic, Geertz got away with attacking the anti-relativists, those who believe that anthropology is nihilist and use “relativism” as an scapegoat for their absolutism, without embracing relativism per se. “We are being offered a choice of worries” Cliff points out, “[the relativists] want us to worry about provincialism –the danger that our perceptions will be dulled .. by the over learned and overvalued acceptance of our society. What the anti-relativists, self declared, want us to worry about is a kind of spiritual entropy.. in which everything is. insignificant. I find myself provincialism altogether the more real concern so far as what actually goes on in the world” (Geertz 1984, 265) It would not be until 1995 that Clifford Geertz published a major work again. On that year, he reflected on his career in After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist .While “not an autobiographical book, and not a memoir” (Handler 1991, 612), Geertz wanted to reflect on what being an anthropologist had meant for him. Geertz on Anthropology as a Discipline “Becoming an anthropologist is not.. an induction into an established profession” (Geertz 1995, 133) Geertz wrote in After the Fact. Geertz not only announced that anthropology was not an established profession, but that it is “in fact rather more something one picks up as one goes along.. than something one has instilled through ‘a systematic method to obtain obedience’ or formalized ‘training by instruction and control’”. Clearly, Geertz had no intention on unifying the multiple paths that we recognize as anthropology today; instead, he described anthropology as “a sprawling consortium of dissimilar scholars held together largely by will and convenience”. In his 1991 interview, Geertz speculated that in the next fifty years, anthropology would probably take a very different structure (Handler 1991, 611-612). Evidently, Geertz did not believe in anthropology as a unified discipline, and encouraged its atomization. However, as someone who spent most of his life doing anthropology, it seems like Geertz did not want anthropology to be disjointed, but that he preferred it to be in constant flux so that the researcher is not constrained to expand into different fields of knowledge. After all, the last lines of After the Fact offer a charming reflection upon his career: [In anthropology] there is not much assurance or sense of closure, not even much of a sense of knowing what it is one precisely is after, in so indefinite a quest, amid such various people, over such a diversity of times. But it is an excellent way, interesting, dismaying, useful, and amusing, to expend a life (Geertz 1995, 168).

In the year 2000, his memoir and philosophical manifesto Available Light: Philosophical Reflections on Anthropological Topics is published. This last publication is a further example and summary of his personality and style, as he recounts his involvement with anthropology and reflects upon the themes of scientific methodology and the search for truth in anthropology. In 2006, after a heart surgery, Clifford Geertz passed away in a hospital in Pennsylvania.

Conclusion Clifford Geertz lived an extraordinarily productive life. He spent a life trying to capture something that escapes the radar of society all too often: knowledge. It was that drive for knowledge that took him from Antioch to Harvard, from Harvard to Java, from Java to Chicago, from Chicago to Morocco, etc. His most important contribution, the one for which he will always be remembered, “interpretative social science” was in many ways a statement that no matter how many times you look at something, there will always be something to say about it. If Clifford Geertz would have lived for another hundred years, my guess is that he would still be an interpretative anthropologist trying to find new understanding in things we all find either too familiar or too obsolete. Throughout this paper, I have discussed a variety of Geertz’ works and mentioned all of them with the purpose of giving context to the eclectic influence that he has had in the social sciences. He not only rejected and proposed theoretical frameworks, but also influenced heavily Islamic studies and pioneered the philosophical implications of anthropology. Obviously, I have not covered everything that could be covered about Geertz, but I believe that I have been true to Geertz’ in presenting more than one side of his story. If Geertz himself was to finish up this pape, he would probably introduce an exotic story or poem that he heard while doing fieldwork (or he read somewhere) and attempt to show us something about the topic in relation to it.I will finish this paper by quoting a rather underappreciated statement that Geertz makes at the end of the introduction of Local Knowledge. This is a “very long epitaph” after all, and Geertz deserves the last word: To see ourselves as others see us can be eye-opening. To see others as sharing a nature with ourselves is the merest decency. But it is from the far more difficult achievement of seeing ourselves amongst others, as a local example of the forms human life has locally taken, a case among cases, a world among worlds, that the largeness of mind, without which objectivity is self congratulation and tolerance a sham, comes. If interpretive anthropology has any general office in the world is to keep reteaching this fugitive truth (Geertz 1983, 16)

Bibliography Bowie, Fiona. 2006. The Anthropology of Religion: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Davis , Natalie. 2005. Clifford Geertz on Time and Change. Ed Richard Shweder and Byron Good. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Eickelman, Dale. 2005. Clifford Geertz and Islam. Ed Richard Sweder and Byron Good. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Geertz, Clifford. 1960. The Religion of Java. Glencoe. Il: Free Press. Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books. Geertz, Clifford. 1983. Local Knowledge: Further essays in interpretive anthropology. New York: Basic Books. Geertz, Clifford. 1984. Anti-anti relativism. American Anthropologist 86, (2): 263-78 Geertz, Clifford. 1995. After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades. One Anthropologist. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Geertz, Clifford, Byron Good, and Richard A. Shweder. 2005. Clifford Geertz by his colleagues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Geertz, Clifford. 2000. Passage and accident: A life of learning. In Available light, 3-19. New Jersey: Princeton University Press Handler, Richard. 1991. An interview with Clifford Geertz. Current Anthropology 32, (5): 603613.

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