This file is part of HyperGeertz©WorldCatalogue(HTM)*
and contains biographical informations on Clifford James Geertz, jr. (1926-2006).
* (HTM) HyperGeertz is a protected Hypertext-Trademark by Austrian law (UrhRG 1936 idgF 2006, Par. 21 & 24 iVm 40a).
Clifford James Geertz, jr. (1926 - 2006)
a) Early and family aspects
Clifford James Geertz (junior), was born Aug. 23rd, 1926, in San Francisco/Ca./USA, as son of Clifford James Geertz (senior), a trader and businessman (1891-1966), and his wife Lois Brieger-Geertz (a former semi-professional tennis-player, 1895-1974).
Cliff J. Geertz, jr. (= his self-presentation in early years) was faced by a broken home situation (an early divorce of his parents (1932), when he was 7 years old); he grew up in a rather complicated step-family-situation in Santa Rosa/Ca./USA (near San Francisco/Ca./USA), and attended the Santa Rosa High School, Santa Rosa/Ca./USA (09/1936 - 06/1943), where he was from 1941 onwards editor of the high-school-newspaper and literary magazine, and dreaming of becoming a journalist (see: http://www.thirteen.org/bigideas/geertz.html).
Cliff J. Geertz, jr., finished the Santa Rosa High School early, at the age of 17 (= 06/43) according to his "late" birth in August 26, 1926 (and his according entry to High School prematurely already in 1935). He entered therefore the U.S. Navy Corps already in fall 1943, accompanied by superb test results to his application as Navy volunteer (= Navy V-12-examinations), summer 1943 (see Apter 2007) (in: Daedalus 2007).
Clifford James Geertz, jr. (so his 1943 Navy papers), fulfilled his voluntary service at the U.S. Navy in World War II (10/1943 - 07/45). He served in the Atlantic operations (backfront) around the US-invasion at the Normandie (as communications specialist, fortunately never serving at the main front battles around these Atlantic operations, the subsequent Normandie invasion, and the following fights in France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany, but always being present as background communications specialist for these fights).
Clifford James Geertz, junior (so the 1948 marriage papers), was first married to his equally famous wife Hildred Storey-[Geertz] (born 1929; married 1948, and divorced after 32 years 1981, no children; Hildred Geertz later (1984-2004) being full professor of anthropology at Princeton University/N.J./USA, now emerita).
Clifford James Geertz (now [finally] dropping officially the "jr.") was married later to Karen Blu-[Geertz] (1987, with two children: Erica Geertz (b. 1988); and Benjamin Geertz (b. 1990). Karen Blu-Geertz (born 1945) is still an active professor of anthropology at the University of New York. She survives her husband Clifford J. Geertz.
b) Studies and degrees
Geertz, Clifford James, jr., studied (according to a recommendation by a former Santa-Rosa-High-School-teacher) at Antioch College/Oh./USA (09/1945 - 07/1950; B.A. (A.B.) in philosophy 1950), and afterwards at Harvard University/Mass./ USA (10/1950 - 06/1956; Ph.D. in anthropology, 1956).
At first Geertz, Clifford James, jr., tended towards a major in English at Antioch (thus "loosing" the first one and a half years (see Apter 2007 in: Daedalus 2007).), but then switched to philosophy (Prof. G. Geiger, Antioch College, major program, graduate degree 1950) and social sciences and anthropology (Prof. T. Parsons, Prof. C. Kluckhohn, Prof. C. DuBois (supervisor of his doctoral thesis), Harvard University, postgraduate degree 1956);
For the many honorary degrees afterwards see the respective file.
c) Scientific Achievements and positions
Clifford James, jr., was research assistant and later research
associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT/Ma./USA), Center for
International Studies (for the MIT "Economic development program Nr.
this program included several fieldwork phases in Java and Bali (1952-53 and 1957-58) and was published 1955-1959.
1956-1957 he was (as Ph.D.) also instructor for Social Relations at the Laboratory of Social Relations, Harvard University.
1958-1960: Geertz, Clifford James, jr., started his independant scientific career as Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, in Stanford/Ca./USA (1958-1959); followed and parallel combined as Assistant Professor for Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley/Ca./USA (1959-1960);
He afterwards joined the anthropology staff of the University of Chicago/Ill./USA (1960
- 1970); starting his career as Assistant Professor (1960-1961), followed as
Associate Professor (1962-1964), and Full Professor (1964-1970);
At Chicago, Geertz became a "champion of symbolic anthropology", which gives prime attention to the role of thought (& of "symbols") in society. Symbols guide action. Culture, according to Geertz, is "a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which people communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life." (Geertz 1973, p. 89). The function of culture is to impose meaning on the world and make it understandable. The role of anthropologists is to try (though complete success is not possible) to interpret the guiding symbols of each culture.
(1964-1970): During these appointments Clifford J. Geertz was (1964-1970) also Senior Research Career Fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, Rockville/Md/USA), working on a NIMH grant on "Enthopsychiatry and Mental Health";
1971-2006: He then became (Harold F. Lindner) professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University/N.J./USA (from 1970 - 2000, then emeritus until his death 2006).
d) General Assessment
Clifford James Geertz can be regarded as one of the most important social scientists of our time. He has conducted extensive ethnographical research in Southeast Asia and North Africa. He has also contributed to social and cultural theory and is still very influential in turning anthropology toward a concern with the frames of meaning within which various peoples live out their lives. He has worked on religion, most particularly Islam, on bazaar trade, on economic development, on traditional political structures, and on village and family life. His last position was professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton/N.J./USA, and he was working on the general question of ethnic diversity and its implications in the modern world. Clifford Geertz died on October 30th, 2006.
For more detailled information about current research projects, academic career and a basic bibliography see: http://www.sss.ias.edu/files/pdfs/geertzcv.pdf (at the moment ending by 2005 and referring to HyperGeertz for better information).
See also Richard A. Shweder's Biographical Memoir at The National Academy of Sciences.