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The Interpretation Of Cultures. Selected…
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The Interpretation Of Cultures. Selected Essays (1973)

by Clifford Geertz

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1,28149,865 (4.02)7
One of the twentieth century's most influential books, this classic work of anthropology offers a groundbreaking exploration of what culture is With The Interpretation of Cultures, the distinguished anthropologist Clifford Geertz developed the concept of thick description, and in so doing, he virtually rewrote the rules of his field. Culture, Geertz argues, does not drive human behavior. Rather, it is a web of symbols that can help us better understand what that behavior means. A thick description explains not only the behavior, but the context in which it occurs, and to describe something thickly, Geertz argues, is the fundamental role of the anthropologist. Named one of the 100 most important books published since World War II by the Times Literary Supplement, The Interpretation of Cultures transformed how we think about others' cultures and our own. This definitive edition, with a foreword by Robert Darnton, remains an essential book for anthropologists, historians, and anyone else seeking to better understand human cultures.… (more)
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This is the best book I've ever read on cultural anthropology, and a great influence on my work.

"Thick description" is the term Geertz coined for what he did. I try. ( )
  DaveCullen | May 11, 2009 |
Just a Continuation of Anti-Progressive, Anti-Science: In the typical post-modernist sense, Geertz seeks to cast doubt on everything without leaving us with anything in place. Just like other post modernists, his theories are so vague, poorly stated, and in generally strange that they cannot be proved right or wrong. Even if he, like other post-modernists, is right, we do not gain anything but perhaps a somewhat edited understanding of our world. The field of cultural anthropology in and of itself is a "shady" field. The lack of biological evidence to back up Geertz's claims is immense. To think the Central Nervous System is a result of culture is simply asinine. To think that somehow culture exists out there for us to grab and chose and that it is somehow transferred through our genes and eventually influences evolution is outright ridiculous. Just because you can make claims and cast doubt on opposing claims does not mean you are correct. There is little evidence to show that the human race is still undergoing evolution in the Darwinian sense. Geertz's failure, or rather deliberate attempt to, distinguish between the mind and the brain shows his general distaste for any sort of reasonable logic. Please: Someone rescue anthropology from its current blinding veil of post modernist, post-structuralist ideology. Post modernism is like chewing gum that sticks to your shoe sole and impedes you from moving forward. OK, so it has our attention, now let us get it off our feet, move on into the future, and leave this decrepit, inane theory behind us all.
2 vote mugwump2 | Nov 29, 2008 |
An interesting read. Geertz puts forth a semiotic view of culture. States that culture is a semiotic framework that we use to navigate in the world we live in. He also argues in favour of "thick" descriptions. Heavy interpretative descriptions, of which there is a beautiful example in the back of the book: Geertz own description and analysis of cockfights in Indonesia. Not all of the essays were that good, but it is worth reading. Particularly "Thick Description", "Toward an interpreative theory of culture", The Cerebral Savage" and the one on cockfights. ( )
1 vote danielbeattie | Jun 9, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clifford Geertzprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blumbergs, IlmārsCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lūse, AgitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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