Clifford Geertz: After the fact. Two
countries, four decades, one anthropologist (1995)
"Suppose," Clifford Geertz suggests, "having entangled yourself
every now and again over four decades or so in the goings-on in two provincial
towns, one a Southeast Asian bend in the road, one a North African outpost and
passage point, you wished to say something about how those goings-on had
changed." A narrative presents itself, a tour of indices and trends,
perhaps a memoir? None, however, will suffice, because in forty years more has
changed than those two townsóthe anthropologist, for instance, anthropology
itself, even the intellectual and moral world in which the discipline exists.
To view his two towns in time, Pare in Indonesia and Sefrou in Morocco, Geertz
adopts various perspectives on anthropological research and analysis during
the post-colonial period, the Cold War, and the emergence of the new states of
Asia and Africa. Throughout, he clarifies his own position on a broad series
of issues at once empirical, methodological, theoretical, and personal. The
result is a truly original book.
Sefrou, a Moroccan town nestled at the foot of the Middle Atlas Mountains, was
an enchanted oasis where Berbers, Arabs, Jews and French settlers coexisted,
when cultural anthropologist Geertz first went there in 1963. But by 1986, the
French and Jews had left, and the population, which had tripled, was deeply
divided between old-timers and recent immigrants, mostly Berbers. The other
focal point of this affecting scholarly memoir, Pare, Indonesia, a town in
central Java where Geertz has done fieldwork since 1952, was wracked by
internecine combat among Islamic, nationalist and Communist parties until the
army imposed military rule in 1965. Today, status-ridden ideas of right and
propriety dominate daily life as Pare's inhabitants attempt to reconcile group
diversity with ideals of national unity. Using his fieldwork in these towns as
a prism, Princeton anthropologist Geertz charts the transformation of cultural
anthropology from a study of "primitive'' people to a multidisciplinary
investigation of a particular culture's symbolic systems, its interactions
with the larger forces of history and modernization.
Table of contents:
"Towns", pp. 1-20
(2) "Countries", pp. 21-41
(3) "Cultures", pp. 42-63
(4) "Hegemonies", pp. 64-95
(5) "Disciplines", pp. 96-135
(6) "Modernities", pp. 136-170.
Jacobs, Ken (online): see the HyperGeertz-Review1 (AfterFact).
Reyna, Stephen P., in: Reviews in Anthropology, vol. 28 (1995), no. 3, pp. 173-187.
Winkler, Karen J., in: The Chronicle of Higher Education, no. 5. 5. 1995, pp. ? (also online)
Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko, in: American Ethnologist, vol. 22, no. 3 (Aug 1995), pp. 622-623.
Rabinow, Paul, in: American Anthropologist, vol. 98, no. 4 (Dec 1996), pp. 888-889.