In this compilation of essays written over a fifteen-year period, the distinguished anthropologist explains his view of culture and its symbolic dimensions
In The Interpretation of Cultures, the most original anthropologist of his generation moved far beyond the traditional confines of his discipline to develop an important new concept of culture. This groundbreaking book, winner of the 1974 Sorokin Award of the American Sociological Association, helped define for an entire generation of anthropologists what their field is ultimately about.
Hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as one of the hundred most influential books published since World War II In The Interpretation of Cultures, the most original anthropologist of his generation moved far beyond the traditional confines of his discipline to develop an important new concept of culture. This groundbreaking book, winner of the 1974 Sorokin Award of the American Sociological Association, helped define for an entire generation of anthropologists what their field is ultimately about.
In essays covering everything from art and common sense to charisma and constructions of the self, the eminent cultural anthropologist and author of The Interpretation of Cultures deepens our understanding of human societies through the intimacies of "local knowledge." A companion volume to The Interpretation of Cultures, this book continues Geertz’s exploration of the meaning of culture and the importance of shared cultural symbolism. With a new introduction by the author.
Clifford Geertz, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, here discusses some of the most urgent issues facing intellectuals today. In this collection of personal and revealing essays, he explores the nature of his anthropological work in relation to a broader public, serving as the foremost spokesperson of his generation of scholars, those who came of age after World War II. His reflections are written in a style that both entertains and disconcerts, as they engage us in topics ranging from moral relativism to the relationship between cultural and psychological differences, from the diversity and tension among activist faiths to "ethnic conflict" in today's politics. Geertz, who once considered a career in philosophy, begins by explaining how he got swept into the revolutionary movement of symbolic anthropology. At that point, his work began to encompass not only the ethnography of groups in Southeast Asia and North Africa, but also the study of how meaning is made in all cultures--or, to use his phrase, to explore the "frames of meaning" in which people everywhere live out their lives. His philosophical orientation helped him to establish the role of anthropology within broader intellectual circles and led him to address the work of such leading thinkers as Charles Taylor, Thomas Kuhn, William James, and Jerome Bruner. In this volume, Geertz comments on their work as he explores questions in political philosophy, psychology, and religion that have intrigued him throughout his career but that now hold particular relevance in light of postmodernist thinking and multiculturalism. Available Light offers insightful discussions of concepts such as nation, identity, country, and self, with a reminder that like symbols in general, their meanings are not categorically fixed but grow and change through time and place. This book treats the reader to an analysis of the American intellectual climate by someone who did much to shape it. One can read Available Light both for its revelation of public culture in its dynamic, evolving forms and for the story it tells about the remarkable adventures of an innovator during the "golden years" of American academia.
Suddenly culture seems to explain everything, from civil wars to financial crises and divorce rates. But when we speak of culture, what, precisely, do we mean? Adam Kuper pursues the concept of culture from the early twentieth century debates to its adoption by American social science under the tutelage of Talcott Parsons. What follows is the story of how the idea fared within American anthropology, the discipline that took on culture as its special subject. Here we see the influence of such prominent thinkers as Clifford Geertz, David Schneider, Marshall Sahlins, and their successors, who represent the mainstream of American cultural anthropology in the second half of the twentieth century--the leading tradition in world anthropology in our day. These anthropologists put the idea of culture to the ultimate test--in detailed, empirical ethnographic studies--and Kuper's account shows how the results raise more questions than they answer about the possibilities and validity of cultural analysis. Written with passion and wit, "Culture" clarifies a crucial chapter in recent intellectual history. Adam Kuper makes the case against cultural determinism and argues that political and economic forces, social institutions, and biological processes must take their place in any complete explanation of why people think and behave as they do.
An anthropologist compares three diverse societies in this groundbreaking, “unique and important” cultural study (The New York Times). A remarkable introduction to cultural studies, Patterns of Culture made history in exploring the role of culture in shaping our lives. In it, the renowned anthropologist Ruth Benedict offers an in-depth look at three societies—the Zuñi of the southwestern United States, the Kwakiutl of western Canada, and the Dobuans of Melanesia—and demonstrates the diversity of behaviors in them. Benedict’s groundbreaking study shows that a unique configuration of traits defines each human culture and she examines the relationship between culture and the individual. Featuring prefatory remarks by Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Louise Lamphere, who calls it “a foundational text in teaching us the value of diversity,” this provocative work ultimately explores what it means to be human. “That today the modern world is on such easy terms with the concept of culture . . . is in very great part due to this book.” —Margaret Mead
In addresses written for a wide general audience, one of the twentieth century's most prominent thinkers, Claude Lévi-Strauss, here offers the insights of a lifetime on the crucial questions of human existence. Responding to questions as varied as 'Can there be meaning in chaos?', 'What can science learn from myth?' and 'What is structuralism?', Lévi-Strauss presents, in clear, precise language, essential guidance for those who want to learn more about the potential of the human mind.
"In four brief chapters," writes Clifford Geertz in his preface, "I have attempted both to lay out a general framework for the comparative analysis of religion and to apply it to a study of the development of a supposedly single creed, Islam, in two quite contrasting civilizations, the Indonesian and the Moroccan." Mr. Geertz begins his argument by outlining the problem conceptually and providing an overview of the two countries. He then traces the evolution of their classical religious styles which, with disparate settings and unique histories, produced strikingly different spiritual climates. So in Morocco, the Islamic conception of life came to mean activism, moralism, and intense individuality, while in Indonesia the same concept emphasized aestheticism, inwardness, and the radical dissolution of personality. In order to assess the significance of these interesting developments, Mr. Geertz sets forth a series of theoretical observations concerning the social role of religion.
Exposing the inadequacies of old conceptions of static cultures and detached observers, the book argues instead for social science to acknowledge and celebrate diversity, narrative, emotion, and subjectivity. From the Trade Paperback edition.
"A vitally important contribution to anthropology. . . . Most importantly, although the critique is sharply directed, the tone of the volume is constructive rather than destructive--or deconstructive."--Joan Vincent, Barnard College "A rich, thought-provoking, and highly original collection. . . . The research presented is new and the perspectives original. This collection of essays casts significant new light on phenomena and practices which have long been central to anthropology, while at the same time introducing new substantive materials."--Don Brenneis, University of California, Santa Cruz
The relationship between everyday experience and culture - seen as a set of ideas, values, or symbolic codes - has challenged social scientists and especially anthropologists, for more than a century. As a comprehensive and critical account of knowledge and research in the field of culture theory, leading social scientists explore the implications for understanding different aspects of subjective experience, social practice, and individual behavior. The focus of the volume is on the role of symbols and meaning in the development of mind, self, and emotion. They examine the content of culture and how it interacts with cognitive, social, and emotional growth; how ideas relate to attitudes, feelings, and behavior; how concepts and meanings are historically transmitted. They also explore methodological and conceptual problems involved in the definition and study of meaning, and revisit the perennial problem of 'relativism' in light of topical advances in semantic analysis and in culture theory. This book will appeal to an interdisciplinary audience of anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers, historians, and linguists, as well as those interested in hermeneutics and a science of subjectivity.
The “structural method,” first set forth in this epoch-making book, changed the very face of social anthropology. This reissue of a classic will reintroduce readers to Lévi-Strauss’s understanding of man and society in terms of individuals—kinship, social organization, religion, mythology, and art.
This is the first full-scale study of the work of Clifford Geertz, who is one of the best-known anthropologists in the world today. In a lively and accessible introduction to his work, Fred Inglis situates Geertz's thought in the context of his life and times, reviewing its forty-year range. The book begins with a chapter-long biography, and places Geertz in the anthropological tradition from which he broke so decisively. This break was inspired by the work of Wittgenstein and Kenneth Burke, who provided Geertz with the lead to construct his theory of symbolic action. This theory was vigorously at odds with the dominant idiom of scientistic inquiry in the human sciences, and since then Geertz has led the practice of these sciences in quite a different direction. Geertz's progress is charted in detail by his field work in Java, Bali and Morocco, as well as his work in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His two remarkable collections of essays, the Interpretation of Cultures and Local Knowledge, are enthusiastically summarized and criticized. The celebrated and controversial essay on the Balinese cock fight is defended against its critics, and in an extended conclusion, his account of the Balinese Theatre-State is, as Geertz suggests, proposed as a more adequate method for the combined study of culture and politics than the professionals' routine application of heavy-handed concepts such as 'power' and 'status'. This book provides a comprehensive overview of one of the most gripping, lucid and entertaining of contemporary thinkers, and in so doing, makes anthropology once again the popular science. It will be of great interest to anthropologists and to students and scholars of cultural studies.
Combining great learning, interpretative originality, analytical sensitivity, and a charismatic prose style, Clifford Geertz has produced a lasting body of work with influence throughout the humanities and social sciences, and remains the foremost anthropologist in America. His 1980 book Negara analyzed the social organization of Bali before it was colonized by the Dutch in 1906. Here Geertz applied his widely influential method of cultural interpretation to the myths, ceremonies, rituals, and symbols of a precolonial state. He found that the nineteenth-century Balinese state defied easy conceptualization by the familiar models of political theory and the standard Western approaches to understanding politics. Negara means "country" or "seat of political authority" in Indonesian. In Bali Geertz found negara to be a "theatre state," governed by rituals and symbols rather than by force. The Balinese state did not specialize in tyranny, conquest, or effective administration. Instead, it emphasized spectacle. The elaborate ceremonies and productions the state created were "not means to political ends: they were the ends themselves, they were what the state was for.... Power served pomp, not pomp power." Geertz argued more forcefully in Negara than in any of his other books for the fundamental importance of the culture of politics to a society. Much of Geertz's previous work--including his world-famous essay on the Balinese cockfight--can be seen as leading up to the full portrait of the "poetics of power" that Negara so vividly depicts.
If we all want love, why is there so much conflict in our most cherished relationships? To answer this question, argues the prominent psychologist David M. Buss, we must look into our evolutionary past. Based on the most massive study of human mating ever undertaken, encompassing more than 10,000 people of all ages from thirty-seven cultures worldwide, The Evolution of Desire is the first book to present a unified theory of human mating behavior. In this fully revised and updated edition of The Evolution of Desire, Buss has incorporated the explosion of research in the field of human mating since its original 1994 publication, from startling discoveries about the evolutionary advantages of infidelity and physical attractiveness to new findings regarding sexual orientation, the emotion of sexual disgust, and incest avoidance adaptations.
Reviews the ideas of the most influential anthropologists of the past and raises fundamental questions about the relationship between the individual and society
Collection of essays on ethnography
Prior accounts have portrayed Islamic Spain either as a paradise of enlightened tolerance, or as the site where civilisations clashed. Award-winning historian Brian A. Catlos taps a wide array of original sources to paint a more complex picture, showing how Muslims, Christians, and Jews together built a sophisticated civilisation that transformed the Western world, even as they waged relentless war against each other and amongst themselves. Religion was often the language of conflict, but seldom its cause--a lesson we would do well to learn in our own time.Kingdoms of Faith rewrites Spain's Islamic past from the ground up, evoking the cultural splendour of al-Andalus and the many forces that shaped it.

Best Books