• 50 Years - A Million Thanks
Big Ideas
Home Big Thinkers Big Ideas Great Failures About the Series

Select a Big Thinker
Books:
Clifford Geertz, LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: FURTHER ESSAYS IN INPRETATIVE ANTHROPOLOGY. Basic Books

Clifford Geertz, INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES, Basic Books Classics

Clifford Geertz, AVAILABLE LIGHT: ANTHROPOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS ON PHILOSOPHICAL TOPICS. Princeton University Press

Clifford Geertz, AFTER THE FACT: TWO COUNTRIES, FOUR DECADES, ONE ANTHROPOLOGIST. Harvard University Press

Clifford Geertz
1926 - 2006     Read Obituary
Field of Expertise

Anthropologists are "merchants of astonishment," wrote Clifford Geertz in AVAILABLE LIGHT, ANTHROPOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS ON PHILOSOPHICAL TOPICS (2000). Geertz is Professor Emeritus of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he has been on the faculty since 1970.

Geertz is known for breaking away from the 1950s emphasis on scientistic inquiry and for introducing a more metaphorical and literary style to the discipline of anthropology, according to his biographer Fred Inglis, author of CLIFFORD GEERTZ: CULTURE, CUSTOM, AND ETHICS (1999).


Educational Background

Born in San Francisco, California on August 23, 1926, Clifford James Geertz was the editor of his high school newspaper and literary magazine and expected to become a journalist by day and a novelist by night. After serving in the Navy from 1943 through 1945, he studied at Antioch College, where he majored in English, then switched to philosophy, partly because of the influence of George Geiger, "the greatest teacher I have known."

After receiving his A.B. in 1950, Geertz went on to study anthropology at Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in 1956. He then became a Research Associate at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1957.

From the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Geertz moved to Stanford (1958-59), the University of California, Berkeley (1958-60), the University of Chicago (1960-70) and then to the Institute for Advanced Study, where he has been ever since, with joint appointments at Oxford University (1978-79) and Princeton University (1975-).

Accomplishments

Geertz is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and scholarly awards, the author of twelve books, and the co-author and editor of a number of others. He received the National Book Critics Circle Prize for criticism in 1989 for WORKS AND LIVES: THE ANTHROPOLOGIST AS AUTHOR (1988). He is a member of the advisory board of the ANTIOCH REVIEW and a frequent contributor to THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS.

Geertz's field work has taken him to Java, Bali, Celebes, and Sumatra in Indonesia as well as to Morocco. In May 2000, he was honored at "Cultures, Sociétiés, et Territoires: Hommage à Clifford Geertz," a conference held in Sefrou, Morocco. It was particularly gratifying, commented Geertz, because "Anthropologists are not always welcomed back to the site of their field studies."

links

Institue for Advanced Study: School of Social Science - Clifford Geertz's Homepage

E Museum - Clifford Geertz'

The New Criterion - The Ethnocentrism of Clifford Geertz

Nork York Review of Books by Clifford Geertz


Print this pagee-mail this page
© 2003 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Thirteen/WNET Big Ideas