Clifford Geertz: The Religion of Java (1960)
"Based on field work in the community of Modjokuto (Java), a commercial, educational, and administrative center for eighteen surrounding villages, this study presents among other aspects salient aspects of Islam under these three religious traditions: the abangan, the santri, and the prijaji. These three respective sections describe the ritual feast called the slametan which involves an extensive and intricate complex of spirit beliefs; the basic rituals of Islam and the social, charitable, and political Islamic organizations; and the Hindu aspects related to the bureaucratic elements in Javanese society. Emphasis is placed on the antagonism among these various religious groups ..." (from the 1960 publishers cover text).
Table of contents:
(0) "Introduction", pp. 1-10;
Part one: the 'Abangan' variant:
(1) "The slametan communal feast as core ritual", pp. 11-15;
(2) "Spirit beliefs", pp. 16-29;
(3) "The slametan cycles", pp. 30-37;
(4) "The slametan cycles: Birth", pp. 38-50;
(5) "The slametan cycles: Circumcision and marrriage", pp. 51-67;
(6) "The slametan cycles: Death, pp. 68-76;
(7) "The slametan cycles: Calendrical, intermittent and village slametans", pp. 77-85;
(8) "Curing, sorcery, and magic", pp. 86-111;
(9) "Permai, a modern Abangan cult", pp. 112-120;
Part two: the 'Santri' variant:
(10) "Santri versus Abangan", pp. 121-130;
(11) "The development of Islam in Modjokuto", pp. 131-147;
(12) "Conservative versus modern: the ideological background", pp. 148-161;
(13) "Patterns of internal organization of the Santri community", pp. 162-176;
(14) "The Santri educational system", pp. 177-198;
(15) "The administration of Moslem law: Islam and the state in Modjokuto", pp. 199-214;
(16) "The Santri ritual pattern", pp. 215-225
Part three: the 'Prijaji' variant:
(17) "The background and general dimensions of Prijaji belief and etiquette", pp. 227-260;
(18) "The role of classical art", pp. 261-288;
(19) "The role of popular art", pp. 289-308;
(20) "Mysticism", pp. 309-338;
(21) "The mystical sects", pp. 339-352;
Part four: Conclusion: Conflict and integration:
(22) "Conclusion: Conflict and integration", pp. 355-386;
and author index;
Index of Javenese and Indonesian terms;
Index of maps, pp. 387-395.
(anonymous), Social Forces; May65, Vol. 43 Issue 4, p626-630, 5p (among 4 other books)
Freedman, Maurice. British Journal of Sociology, Mar1964, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p83, 2p
Flint, John T.. Social Forces, Mar62, Vol. 40 Issue 3, p277-278
Johnson, Harry M.. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Oct61, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p138-140, 3p
Shissler, Henry. Rural Sociology, 9/1/61, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p305-306, 2p
Yinger, J. Milton. American Sociological Review, Jun61, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p490-491, 2p
Johnson, Benton. Southwestern Social Science Quarterly, Jun1961, Vol. 42 Issue 1, p96-97, 2p
William, Mary. American Catholic Sociological Review, Spring1961, Vol. 22 Issue 1, p59-60, 2p
Burchard, Waldo W.. Sociological Quarterly, Jan61, Vol. 2 Issue 1, p60-62, 3p
Nordskog, John E.. Sociology & Social Research, Jan1961, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p223-223, 1/2p
(anonymous), Acta Sociologica (Taylor & Francis Ltd), 1960, Vol. 5 Issue 3, p193-193, 1/3p
Cora Du Bois, American
Anthropologist, Jun 1961, vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 602-604:
"The 'Religion of Java' makes a new and important contribution to our understanding of Javanese life; It is well documented; It is clearly written; It is perceptively and creatively conceived"
"Here is a masterful study, by a well trained anthropologist, of religious beliefs and practises as observed in a small town in East Central Java. ... The treatment is thorough, erudite and dynamic. Here is a model that should be followed by all students of religion; a book that should be read for its basic insights into religion, even if the reader has no special reason to take interest in the people of Java. Needless to say, for a student of Indonesia this work is a major contribution and a seal treat."
E. von Grunebaum, American Journal of Sociology:
"To illustrate this completely and to describe plastically and convincingly both separateness and interaction, diversity and unity of the three principal different strata of Javanese Islam is the purpose and achievement of the present volume. ... The documentation is rich and varied."
"Since the release of Clifford Geertzs "The Religion of Java" in 1960, no book dealing with Javanese culture or religon have been written without reference to the work of Geertz. So huge is the influence of this book on Javanese Studies that it has become an impossibility to write about Java and its traditions without consulting this (as it has become) "classic." (The Javanese themselves sometimes consult it!) However, as popular and inevitable as it is, many scholars have a critical view about "The Religion of Java," and the criticism this work has been the object of stems from a variety of reasons. Many scholars of today are of the opinion that Geertz' conclusions do not reflect the Javanese reality (as they percieve it) and thus criticize him on these grounds, but this is somewhat misleading criticism since the Javanese religious and cultural landscape has changed a lot over the last 45 years (Geertz conducted his fieldwork in the late 1950's).
Geertz divides the Javanese society into three "variants," that is Abangan, Santri and Priyayi. With abangan he means those Javanese who are only nominal Muslims, that is the group not performing the five daily prayers prescribed by Islamic law or fasting during the month of Ramadan. The abangan group is the largest variant of religiosity in Java according to Geertz and it is a syncretism of Hindu-, Buddhist-, animistic- and Islamic elements wherein the pre-Islamic elements seem to dominate.
The second "variant" of Javanese religion is the santri, according to Geertz. The santri comprises the Javanese who first and foremost identifies themselves as Muslims (and not Javanese), and they perform according to their abilities the five pillars of Islam (Confession of faith, the five daily prayers, the taxes, fasting during Ramadan, and performing the pilgrimage to Mekkah). According to Geertz, this variant of Javanese religion is very textual oriented and show a great concern with Islamic doctrines, while abangan is more concerned with the ritual aspects of their religious life.
The third variant of the Javanese religiosity is the priyayi which, according to Geertz, is the Hindu cultural elite which primarily is connected to the bureaucratic parts of the society (in contrast to the abangan who are peasants and the santri who are merchants). In saying this, Geertz is often criticized on the basis that priyayi is not a religious grouping in Javanese society, but rahter a social class.
In sum then, Geertz divides the Javanese religious landscape into three different variants: the syncretic abangan, the Islamic santri and the Hindu priyayi.
For everyone seriously interested in Java and its religious, social and cultural life, this book is a must-have, although the reader has to take the conclusions drawn with a pinch of salt. As readers we are told a lot about the cultural life of the Javanese, their spiritual beliefs and rituals, their attitude towards magic, and a lot more. We also find a discussion about the differences of opinion that arises between the abangan and santri, and we also learn about the santri educational system and the administratiom of Islamic law in the area where Geertz conducted his fieldwork. Further, we are told about Javanese art- both "classical" and "popular"- and here we are told about the Javanese famous shadow play (wayang), Javanese classical music (gamelan), folk theater (ketoprak), and much more. At the end of the book we also find a discussion of mysticism in Java.
Apart from students and scholars of Javanese/Indonesisan cultural life, anthropologists and sociologists too will probably find this piece of work rewarding to read." (reader's review via Amazon.com).