Clifford Geertz Offer Research Into History English Language Essay


Harmonizing to many anthropologists, Clifford Geertz ‘s impact on subject has been profound, being referred to by many as the ‘father of anthropology ‘ . As Geertz ‘s research is chiefly synchronous and historians work is chiefly historical the existent inquiry is how compatible is the two manners of fact-finding idea?

However are historiographers strictly historical or do they need to hold an apprehension of both synchronous and historical history?

In order to understand both we must look at both methods in some item in order to compare them.

Geertz has the benefit of sing his research ‘in the field ‘ while historiographers are impeded by historical paperss written by a male literate elite for their ain audience.

Another thing we must see is Geertz ‘s inability to see ‘change over clip ‘ hinderance to his ain research.

Geertz has become an ‘ambassador of anthropology ‘

Geertz took over the ambassadorship from Benedict, and Geertz has become influential in many other subjects every bit good as his ain.

‘ … the supposed impact of Anthropology, the Science, upon History, the Discipline. ‘ ( 321 )

Historians believe that anthropologists ‘present inactive images of immobile societies scattered across the distant corners of the inhabited universe ‘ ( 321 ) and anthropologists of historiographers, and-then-and-then-and-then narratives ( 321 )

‘Big and Little ‘ ( 321 ) : Historians focus on wide sweeping actions and motions, while anthropologists focus on ‘small, good delimited communities… wallowing in the item of the obscure and unimportant ‘ ( 321 )

‘Or possibly it is approximately High and Low, Dead and Living, Written and Oral, Particular and General, Description and Explanation, or Art and Science ‘ ( 322 )

History ( it is said ) , is threatened by the history-from-below instead than concentrating on the Movers-and-Shakers, such as Kings, Philosophers and Bishops ( 322 )

Outline of what I am traveling to look at in the essay.

‘Marc Bloch wrote that the “ good historiographer is like the giant in the fairy narrative. He know that wherever he catches the aroma of human flesh, there his prey lies ” ( Bloch, p26 ) . The good anthropologist is similarly a man-eater. “ What societal scientific discipline is decently about ” urged Wright-Mills, “ is human assortment, which consists of all the societal universe in which work forces have lived, are populating and might populate ” ( Wright-Mills p.147 ) .

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Geertz Theory ( 600 words )

Historians embrace Geertz, utilizing his thoughts and methods and using them to historical theoretical accounts ( Roger Beck ‘s ‘The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire: Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun ‘ ) . Although historiographers are non as prone to theoretical differences every bit much as anthropologists, it is besides true that Geertz does non function as a marker in generalized battles among historiographers. The history profession has ne’er had many convincing rationalists or many postmodernists. Strange that some version of the materialist review of Geertz has non been embraced by more historiographers. CONDRADICTORY?

A synchronous analysis of civilization is frequently seen as a ‘snapshot ‘ that ‘freezes ‘ clip, although this can be argued to be wrong. Rather, it is when clip is suspended or abolished analytically, so that things that can be traced over clip are treated as portion of a uniformed minute so they can be analysed. As ‘synoptic ‘ is that all positions are present in a individual glace, so ‘synchronic ‘ means that different times are present in a uninterrupted motion. i.e. ‘ in synchronous description are Acts of the Apostless of cultural meaning, instead than being treated as a temporal sequence of statement and counterstatement/ ancestor and effect. ‘ ( EXAMPLES ) ( Look at Azoncourt Stuff )

The anthropological disclosure opened up to historiographers by Geertz ‘s method was ‘essentially synchronous in character. ‘ ‘To portray an ensemble of symbols and the patterns reciprocally sustain each other as an incorporate whole. ( Example of Geertz ‘s survey on faith AND Robert Darnton ‘s ‘The Great Cat Massacre ‘ ) ‘Religions, in short, seek to harmonise a people ‘s constructs of the existent with their constructs of the appropriate manner to populate. ‘

Geertz ‘s metaphysical remarks are non the job, it is his methodological patterns. ‘By handling a cultural public presentation as a text, Roseberry points out, one hole it and the topics it to synchronic regard, bracketing the inquiry of the procedures that produced it in order to work out its internal logic. ‘ Roseberry ‘s position is non strictly ‘materialism versus idealism ‘ but ‘diachrony versus synchronism ‘ . NEEDED?

Uses in historical research ( 1200 words )

Social historiographers have been tremendously antiphonal to Geertz work. The inquiry is ‘why should so many historiographers, who are professionally concerned with inquiries of alteration over clip, be so strongly influenced by an anthropologist whose work is insistently synchronous? ( EXAMPLE OF A SOCIAL HISTORIAN )

Historians seem to be susceptible to Geertz as history is built on an analogues seduction. Historians study universes that are structurally different from this one. ‘ … worlds where people ‘s motivations, senses of honor, day-to-day undertakings, and political computations are based on unfamiliar premises about human society and the cosmic order. ‘ [ SEE ARTICLE FOR EXAMPLES ] ‘A comrade to Anglo-Saxon literature ‘ – see notes

‘Our universe is contingent instead than necessary ; that there exist signifiers of life radically different from ours that are however to the full human, and that, accordingly, our ain hereafter is potentially more unfastened than we normally imagine. ‘ Geertz keeps alive the ‘revelation of anthropology ‘ . ( EXAMPLE OF GEETZ BEING DIRECTLY USED BY A HISTORIAN )

Thick description can enable historiographers to suspend clip more efficaciously – ‘and accordingly to portray past life universes and their transmutations with greater lucidity, complexness, or deepness ‘ ( EXAMPLE OF HOW THIS HAS BEEN USED BY HIISTORIANS )

Both anthropology and history, harmonizing to Geertz, are both the similar and different, both looking for the same type of replies but inquiring different inquiries ( 324 )

Not unusual for historiographers and anthropologists to compose book in the other ‘s field Example: The Historical Anthropology of Early Modern Italy by Peter Burke, Europe and the Peoples Without History by Eric R. Wolf, Primitive Rebels by E. J. Hobsbawn ( 324 )

Historians are restricted to textual grounds written by a literate elite, Geertz ‘s theory suggests that civilization but ’embodied in publicly available symbols ‘ instead than lost in the heads of those who lived through it. Symbolic signifiers through which the dead experienced their universe are available to us in lasting paperss. ‘It [ Geertz ‘s theory ] strongly authorised the usage of anthropological methods in surveies of past societies. ‘ ( EXAMPLE OF THE PROBLEM )

Anthropologists complain that historiographers reliance on written paperss means they are capable to ‘elitist histories and literary conventionality ‘ ( 322 ) , while historiographers are critical of anthropologists for their trust on unwritten testimony with possible ‘invented tradition and the infirmities of memory ‘ ( 322 )

The term ‘historical ‘ agencies two things. One, from its root ‘history ‘ i.e. occurrences taking over clip. Second, historical implies ‘in the yesteryear ‘ , something standing at a distance from the present, and in that manner historical can be seen in a synchronous manner

‘history as temporal context ‘ ( or block of clip, and its alterations over it ) ( synchronous ) and ‘history as transmutation ‘ ( historical ) Although historiographers have to warrant both synchronous and historical systems in their work in order to demo competence, although most historiographers favour concentrating their work on synchronous analysis of a peculiar period USE EXAMPLES Hundred Year War Stuff AND ‘Musica practica: the societal pattern of Western music from Gregorian chant… aˆZ – Page 95 ‘

Most historiographers still care about history in transmutation. Hence the American ‘new societal historiographers ‘ or the Gallic ‘Annales ‘ school attempt to specify themselves against narrative history EXAMPLES OF NEW SOCIAL HISTORY AND ANNALES SCHOOL ( see notes )

Some historiographers attempt to work out – or avoid – a conceptual job by depicting ‘what really happened ‘ A history of the Judaic peopleaˆZ – Page 112

‘It [ Geertz ‘s theory ] tell us, possibly surprisingly, that adequately realized synchronism is more of import to good historical analysis than adequately realized historical linguistics. In the eyes of professionals it is more of import for a historian to cognize how to suspend clip than to cognize how to tell its transition. ‘ EXAMPLES ‘Japanese discourse markers: synchronic and historical discourse analysisaˆZ – Page 23 ‘ AND ‘Please Do n’t Wish Me a Merry Christmas: A Critical History of the Separation… aˆZ – Page 255 ‘

‘ … a historiographer who wants to take advantage of Geertz ‘s synchronous penetrations but besides wants to look into cultural transmutations must modify Geertz ‘s constructs in pattern. ‘

Virtually none of the societal theory developed by anthropologists trade with jobs of historical alteration.

‘The overruling job posed by most societal theory has been accounting for societal order or construction. ‘ Use OR CRITISISM?

What is needed is a modified version of Geertz ‘s theory that still encompasses his epsomology of ethnographic research and use/ trust on sychronicism.

Cultural symbols are both ‘models of ‘ and theoretical accounts for ‘ world. ‘models for ‘ being as in templets for the production of world ( e.g. the female codifications of behavior ) and ‘models of ‘ being how the old theoretical accounts are judged ( e.g. female codifications of behavior show the difference between the sexes. ) NEEDED?

Application to have research ( 400 words )

Criticisms ( 800 words )

Geertz has been attacked by rationalists, postmodernists and materialists:

Positivists: Geertz abandoned the scientific values of “ predictability, replicability, verifiability, and law-generating capacity ” in favor of a more “ glamourous ” or “ tempting ” qualities of interpretative method ‘ .

Postmodernists: Geertz does n’t travel far plenty with his interpretative theoretical account and that he does non subject his ain ethnographic pattern to critical reading

Materialists: knock his disregard of ‘history, power and societal struggles. POSSIBLE Example

Geertz features events in existent historical clip, but they are used as a literary device instead than as specific capable affair. Geertz besides fails to depict the historical and societal impact on the cultural public presentation that he is analyzing. EXAMPLE Maroc illustration from Interpretations?

Roseberry argues that Geertz ‘s essay on the Balinese prick battle does non take into history the history of its development ( issues he states are mentioned but ne’er taken up by Geertz ) , and that we should believe of the ‘material societal procedure ‘ as a ‘production ‘ instead than as a ‘product ‘

Geertz ne’er explains why cultural systems determine human behavior so closely. In Geertz ‘s essay ‘The Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind ‘ , ‘Geertz argues that cultural patterning must be understood as an parallel of familial scheduling. ‘ ( Argues that the head, a suspiciously idealist construct, has a significant biological footing in human development )

Historians have been less than successful in their efforts tom marry history with anthology ( Roger Beck ‘s ‘The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire: Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun ‘ hypertext transfer protocol: // )


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