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After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist (Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Clifford Geertz

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Kurzbeschreibung

1. Oktober 1996 Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures (Buch 5)
In looking back on four decades of anthropology in the field, Geertz creates a personal history that is also a retrospective reflection on developments in the human sciences amid political, social, and cultural changes in the world.

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'It is difficult to know what to do with the past,' Geertz writes, but of his own past he has made an elegant, almost meditative volume of reflections. In prose that is sometimes liquid, sometimes faux-Jamesian, Geertz looks back over the sites of his anthropological labors: Sefrou, in Morocco; Pare, in Indonesia; the University of Chicago; the Institute for Advanced Study, at Princeton...The reader is allowed to witness how fruitfully accident and idea have mingled in the making of one anthropologist's career. New Yorker This long-awaited professional memoir by...one of anthropology's most illustrious demigods plays on the ambiguity of method in a curious discipline that began in the early twentieth century as something of a treasure hunt after lives and cultures in exotic, faraway places...Worked in between Geertz's ethnographic tales, anecdotes, and reminiscences of fieldwork in Sefrou and Pare is the engrossing story of a few key moments in American social science during the second half of the twentieth century as he participated in them. -- Nancy Scheper-Hughes New York Times Book Review After the Fact is a retrospective on a remarkable career, and on the worlds that shaped its characteristic contours. -- Benedict Anderson London Review of Books This memoir by the eminent cultural anthropologist functions at several levels. It is worth reading just for the well-chosen and narrated anecdotes from Geertz's fieldwork in Indonesia and Morocco. This book is also an anthropological critique of the extensive political-economic changes in the Third World over the past 40 years. On a more philosophical level, Geertz has written a series of meditative reflections on the nature of anthropological knowledge...Geertz shows the value of building patterns and connections from multiple, nuanced, first-hand observations of an anthropologist. -- Adan Quan Antioch Review Geertz's disarmingly casual [book is]...a history of his relationships with the towns in Indonesia and Morocco where he's done his most sustained fieldwork, cast in terms of a history of the ideas that have shaped that work...Its deftly rendered anecdotes always serve as illustrations of concepts...Elegant. -- Michael Gorra Transition A new book by Clifford Geertz is an event...[The] chapters on Java and Morocco...are marked by the impressive learning, the illuminating insights, the marvelous description of scene and event, the masterful summary of complex social history, and the evocative characterization of cultural heritage, as well as the elegant style, the pithy phrase, and the illuminating trope, that we have come to expect from vintage Geertz...In sum, an intellectual feast. -- Melford E. Spiro Society After the Fact is Clifford Geertz's Jerusalem-Harvard lectures, jointly sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University. Appropriate to its venue, the books addresses major questions, making strong theoretical and empirical claims. For that reason, After the Fact is a rather touching confession, even a testament. -- Paul Rabinow American Anthropologist An unabashedly honest ethnography that faces head-on the challenge of representing the 'other' in the social sciences' 'post-postmodernist' climate of uncertainty. As a founder of 'symbolic' anthropology...Geertz has already made an impressive contribution to the field. This book--a series of reflections on his fieldwork over a period of some 40 years in two locations: Pare, Indonesia, and Sefrou, Morocco--vibrantly demonstrates that ethnography can still be a viable and worthwhile enterprise...Brilliant. Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis

In looking back on four decades of anthropology in the field, Geertz creates a personal history that is also a retrospective reflection on developments in the human sciences amid political, social, and cultural changes in the world.

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Einleitungssatz
Suppose, 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. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen From Fieldwork to Poetry 22. November 2008
Von Etienne ROLLAND-PIEGUE - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Anthropology is a discipline without discipline. "At once broad and general, wildly aspiring ("The Study of Man"), and particular and miscellaneous, strangely obsessive (puberty rites, gift exchange, kin terminology), it has always had, both to itself and to outsiders, a blurry image. Neither method nor subject matter very exactly defines it. ("Ethnography" has been often proposed with respect to the first, "primitive society" with respect to the second. But the one is as diffuse an idea as that it is supposed to clarify and the other is misconceived.)"

What, then, defines the anthropologist? In Clifford Geertz's case, as for many of his peers, entry into the profession was determined by their having gone through fieldwork. Academic lectures and the acquaintance with great authors had to be complemented with learning-by-going. In-depth knowledge of a particular place at a particular time then allows the anthropologist to claim some authority in addressing more general issues: social change, the logic of politics, cultural identities. The description is enriched and the knowledge deepened by the use of the comparative method: having studied two cities--Sefrou in Morocco and Pare in Indonesia--at various points in time provides Geertz with a richer perspective, deepened further by his engagement with methodological issues.

Even so, the task is not easy. The anthropologist has to guard himself against two pitfalls: the "telephone book" syndrome, where the accumulation of facts and detail substitute for meaningful analysis, and the temptation of the grand historical opera, where the views are so broad and general as to lose sight of the concrete. In addition, there is always the twin risks of impressionism ("invocations of camels and minarets, rice terraces and shadow puppets") and of stereotyping ("the megalomanic Kwakiutl, the stalwart Nuer, the disciplined Japanese, the family-prisoned Southern Italians").

The essential task, then, is to "tell it like it is". Despite the claims to objectivity, this is a matter of art as much as of science. "Footnotes help, verbatim texts help even more, detail impresses, numbers usually carry the day. But, in anthropology anyway, they remain somehow ancillary: necessary of course, but insufficient, not quite the point." The important point here is to "devise systems of discourse that can keep up, more or less, with what, perhaps, is going on." In the end, anthropology is not much different from myths, which according to Northrop Frye describe not what has happened but what happens. Both are stories about stories, views about views, with the power to conjure other accounts and to strengthen our hold on the real.

Organized into thematic chapters, Clifford Geertz's After the Facts--half personal memories, half meditation about the discipline--is a brilliant account of what anthropology is all about. The author starts with a tale of two cities revealing their inner core to the observer: Pare as a political battlefield on the brink of a bloodbath, leaving the author with a sense of having come too late and leaving too early ("between a turbulence somehow got through and another one obscurely looming"); Sefrou as a moral landscape ideally suited for the ethnographer ("the place was not only suited for a monograph; it sorted itself into chapters").

He then proceeds with comparing Indonesia and Morocco, going beyond the cliches (a precipitate of the present, a relic from the past) to find some truth in the opposition between what he labels a politics of sedq, of the radical personalism and patronage networks of Moroccan politics, and a politics of suku, which describes Indonesia's attempt to reconcile group diversity and national unity. These categories-- political drama and moral landscape, sedq and suku-- are not absolutes and should only be valued for their capacity to "lead on to extended accounts which, intersecting other accounts of other matters, widen their implications and deepen their hold". They help the author understand "what all the shouting is about; what sort of quarrel is going on."

Geertz also attempts to characterize the two cultures, noting first that during his early attempts to learn the language, Javanese instructors dutifully corrected him for any errors he made in status marking and let gender errors more or less go, while his Moroccan instructors never let a gender mistake pass uncorrected and seemed hardly interested in status distinctions. This is partly due to the fact that Javanese has no inflection for gender but is grammatically stratified into minutely graded, hierarchical speech registers, while Moroccan Arabic has gender inflections for just about every part of speech, but no status form at all. More fundamentally, languages have "disparate tendencies to notice some things about the world rather more than others and to make more fuss about them."

Some issues also make more fuss and impose themselves on the anthropologist's agenda. Such is the case with Islam, a religion joining the two geographical extremes of Indonesia and Morocco. As Geertz notes, "everyone now seems to have a view about it". Although he himself offers no definitive interpretation, the titles of the books he devoted to the subject offer some indications on where he stands. For an anthropologist, Islam has to be observed, starting with religious development in situated places, as opposed to an essentialist approach that would draw general lessons from the reading of canonical texts. And religion in places like Java is a pluralistic phenomenon, open to conflicts of interpretation as to what constitutes its true nature.

Contrary to a younger generation of anthropologists, Clifford Geertz doesn't try to impose his political agenda upon the reader, nor does he discard anything Western as ethnocentric and imperialistic. He is however well conscious of his own country's political and cultural hegemony: "there was never a time when "the West" in general, and the United States in particular, did not intrude in one way or another upon my daily encounters, to say nothing of my state of mind". But he choses to treat the issue in a mildly ironic mode, through a succession of snapshots that describe his encounters with "sputniks, foreign bases, diplomatic adventures, international conferences, aid missions, and cultural exchanges".

Finally, Clifford Geertz is a virtuoso of the English language. He writes in a style that is both highly accurate and richly evocative. He refrains from using the jargon that so often plagues the discipline, and he refers more often to literary works than to theoretical texts. I had to check the names and works of Richard Wilbur and Theodore Roethke, who both received a Pulitzer Prize for poetry and whose quotations are woven in the text. If you want to get an idea of his prose, just access the first three pages of the book through the "Look Inside" function on Amazon. They are absolutely stunning.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen the great but unclassifiable anthropologist 15. September 2000
Von slightlykooky - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
A Professor of Social Science at Princeton for decades, Geertz gave a series of lectures at the University of Jerusalem and these were the result. The book serves as a memoir of his four decades in the field of anthropology and brings together two areas of the world where he has built his career. Noting the similarities and differences of working in Indonesia and Morocco, Geertz draws comparative aspects of these divergent cultures. Known for his 'thick description' which was made Bible in the "interpretation of cultures" (a must first-read for understanding his theories), Geertz uses it some, but doesn't overload the reader here. The uninformed reader can still enjoy the behind-the-scenes-look at one of the foremost anthropologists of the 20th century and not get lost along the way. For the Geertz fan, it is a must read, if nothing for his funny anecdotes.
0 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen One of my favorites... 22. Juli 2004
Von Psymonetta Isnoful - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I developed a strong preference for Geertz and his methodology during my undergraduate studies. In this book he does an outstanding job of amending structuralism with realtivism, anecdotally, and manages to keep the tone entertaining and personal.
3 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Geertz ignored his presence during genocide for too long 1. August 2003
Von Jason Helmut - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
I have been influenced by the beauty of Geertz writing for decades, but After the Fact has left me disturbed and confused. This summer I read an essay by Stephen Reyna claiming Geertz covered-up genocide in Indonesia, I didn't believe Reyna's claims until I read Geertz's account of these events in this book. Now I don't know what to think, and I am beginning to question Geertz's methods and I want to know why Geertz was not outspoken about the genocide he saw.
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