Clifford Geertz: Negara (1980)
1980 Geertz wrote Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali. In
the book he explores the internal organization of the ruling class and how
the village and the state interact with each other. Geertz also addresses
issues of power and status in Bali and includes an extensive (120 page plus)
section of his ethnographic notes."
"Bali, owing to its relative isolation and to a long tradition of observation and scholarship, has become a rich source of information about the traditional Indic state in Southeast Asia. Here Clifford Geertz applies his well-known cultural analysis to the social organization of nineteenth-century Bali. He offers a vivid portrait of the symbols, myths, rituals, and ceremonies -- in short, the drama -- that essentially constituted the precolonial negara, the Balinese state.
The negara was neither a tyranny nor a hydraulic bureaucracy, nor even very much of a government. It was instead an organized spectacle, a theatre state designed to dramatize the ruling obsessions of Balinese culture: social inequality and status pride. Nowhere is the theatre state more clearly displayed than in the master image of political life, namely, the kingship. The author shows how the king, as both a ritual object and a political actor, was a paradox of active passivity, forceful stillness, violent benevolence. The closer he came to being an image of power, the further removed he was from the machinery that controlled this power.
Professor Geertz finds, therefore, that the Balinese state defies easy conceptualization by any of the familiar models or commonplace terms of Western political theory. To reduce it to such categories allows most of what is uniquely interesting about it to escape from view. By analyzing the organizational principles of the Balinese state, through its various levels and functions, he demonstrates the limitations of any attempt to distinguish the "practical" from the ritual character of this organization. In this way the author remedies the deficiencies and distortions of modern Western notions that reduce "politics" simply to "power," the state to an organizational device understandable in purely instrumental terms, and symbolic or cultural processes to an incidental role in statecraft." (publishers note)
Table of contents:
(0-a) "Illustrations, preface", pp. xi-xii;
(0-b) "Introduction: Bali and historical method", , pp. 3-10;
(1) "Political definition: the sources of order", pp. 11-25;
(2) "Political anatomy: the intenal organization", pp. 26-44;
(3) "Political anatomy: the village and the state", pp. 45-97;
(4) "Political statement: spectacle and ceremony", pp. 98-120;
(5) "Conclusion: Bali and political theory", pp. 121-136;
(6) "Notes", pp. 137-258;
(7) "Glossary, bibliography, Index", pp. 259-294.
Nordholt, H. S.: "Negara: a theatre state?", in: Bijdragen tot de taal- land- en volkenkunde. vol. 137 (1981) no. 4, pp 470-476.
Manning, Peter K.. American Journal of Sociology, Sep83, Vol. 89 Issue 2, p480-482
Anderson, Benedict R.. American Historical Review, Dec81, Vol. 86 Issue 5, p1137 4p
Wilson, H.E.. Canadian Journal of History, Dec81, Vol. 16 Issue 3, p500, 3p
A Poetics of Power. By: Leach, Edmund. New Republic, 4/4/81, Vol. 184 Issue 14, p30-33, 4p
see the HyperGeertz-Review (by Benedict R. Anderson; pdf-Format).
also the HyperGeertz-Review2
(by Quentin Skinner);
(New York Review of Books, subscription or charge).