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Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues

Clifford Geertz is the most influential American anthropologist of the past four decades. His writings have defined and given character to the intellectual agenda of a meaning-centered, nonreductive interpretive social science and have provoked much excitement and debate about the nature of human understanding.

As part of the American Anthropological Association’s centennial celebration, the executive board sponsored a presidential session honoring Geertz. Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues compiles the twelve speeches given then by a distinguished panel of social scientists along with a concluding piece by Geertz in which he responds to each speaker and reflects on his own career. These edited speeches cover a broad range of topics, including Geertz’s views on morality, cultural critique, interpretivism, time and change, Islam, and violence.

A fitting tribute to one of the great thinkers of our age, this collection will be enjoyed by anthropologists as well as students of psychology, history, and philosophy.

160 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2005

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Biography and Letters

Sociology: General Sociology


"Clifford Geertz is a central figure in the humanities in the last half century, whose work has transformed anthropology and social science in general. His interpretive turn has made it possible to grasp the particular, changing constellations of meaning which constitute human societies, and are often masked in the explanatory systems and over-arching generalizations of traditional social science. This work is of greater relevance than ever today, when very diverse societies are drawn ever tighter together, often in mutual incomprehension and conflict. This fascinating book, a conversation between Geertz and colleagues from different disciplines, draws out these and other implications of his remarkable corpus of work."

Charles Taylor | Charles Taylor

"Geertz’s combination of great philosophical sophistication with an artist’s eye for the significant little detail has made him one of the most influential intellectuals of recent times. This collection of essays will give the reader a good sense of his impact on a variety of academic disciplines."

Richard Rorty | Richard Rorty

"We should be grateful that Clifford Geertz chose anthropology. Described as the single most influential anthropologist of recent times, he resisted reductionism and chose meaning-centred analysis. Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues is a great twist on the Festschrift: here, the tributes to him receive a reply from him."

Maggie McDonald | New Scientist

Table of Contents

Richard A. Shweder and Byron Good
1. Cliff Notes: The Pluralisms of Clifford Geertz
Richard A. Shweder
2. Passing Judgment: Interpretation, Morality, and Cultural Assessment in the Work of Clifford Geertz
Lawrence Rosen
3. Celebrating Geertzian Interpretivism
Jerome Bruner
4. Coded Communications: Symbolic Psychological Anthropology
Robert A. LeVine
5. Geertz’s Style: A Moral Matter
James A. Boon
6. Clifford Geertz on Time and Change
Natalie Zemon Davis
7. Happenstance and Patterns
Amelie Oksenberg Rorty
8. Geertz’s Concept of Culture in Historical Context: How He Saved the Day and Maybe the Century
James Peacock
9. Clifford Geertz and Islam
Dale F. Eickelman
10. Deep Play, Violence, and Social Reconstruction
Michael M. J. Fischer
11. Speaking to Large Issues: The World, If It Is Not in Pieces
Ulf Hannerz
12. On the "Subject" of Culture: Subjectivity and Cultural Phenomenology in the Work of Clifford Geertz
Byron Good and Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good
13. Commentary
Clifford Geertz

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