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2002, vol. 44, iss. 1, pp. 41-56
Clifford Geertz: Writing and interpretation
Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
Keywords: Clifford Geertz; interpretative anthropology; contemporary anthropology - methodological aspects; culture - methodological aspects
Abstract
The paper examines the scope and influence of Clifford Geertz, one of the most influential social scientists in the 20th century. Geertz is associated with the 'interpretative', 'postmodern' or 'literary' turn in anthropology, although he would not necessarily put himself in any of these categories. The concepts of the 'culture as text' and the 'semiotic concept of culture' have influenced generations of scholars. They have also been criticized, but I point to inadequacies of some of these criticisms. The paper traces this 'interpretative' thread of Geertz's work, along with its methodological implications for the relativistic, plural perspectives, up to his writings in the 1990s, when he seems to adopt a position that there actually can be one interpretation, a specific 'master narrative' according to which 'the world' we live in can be understood. The conclusion is that this latest phase of Geertz's work might be impossible to reconcile with a kind of methodological pluralism implied in his earlier works.
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article language: English
document type: unclassified
DOI: 10.2298/SOC0201041B
published in SCIndeks: 02/06/2007

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