History and anthropology
in: New Literary History (Charlottesville/Va./USA: University of Virginia), vol. 21 no. 2 (1990), pp. 321-335


(by Clifford Geertz)




The confrontation between historical & anthropological ways of knowing is illuminated in an examination of how a group of social historians involved themselves with anthropological ideas & materials, & how a larger group of historians & anthropologists attempted to coordinate their interests in studying the symbolic construction of the state. It is suggested that the conjoining of history & anthropology is not a matter of fusing the two academic fields into a new one, but of redefining each in terms of the other within the bounds of a particular study, eg, textual tactics. It is argued that the anthropologist's interest in the historian's way of making sense of the past & the historian's interest in the anthropologist's way of bringing it near will continue without amalgamation of the fields or incorporation of one into the other. In Response to Geertz, Renato Rosaldo (Stanford U, Calif) examines the argument from the perspective of disenfranchised methodological, ethnic, or political groups who encompass the classic notions of historical periods & whole cultures, but while researching new topics & providing a new look at old topics, find inconsistencies, partial truths, & dominant ideologies. Whether history & anthropology can retain their separate identities is questioned. V. Wagener




source: Sociological Abstracts Inc. (paper version)


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