Local Knowledge: Further Essays In Interpretive Anthropology

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Basic Books, Aug 4, 2008 - Social Science - 464 pages
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.

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I am shocked by the two star reviews--thus I feel compelled to add my own. These essays are among the most important in anthropology, and among the most beautiful as well. Here is where Geertz sets out his views about the self, about implicit knowledge, and more. No learned person should be ignorant of their content. They are classics, and whatever you conclude about them, they help you to think. 



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Page 58 - Geertz stated many years ago that "the Western conception of the person as a bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotion, judgment, and action organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastively both against other such wholes and against a social and natural background...
Page 72 - ... how many houses or streets does it take before a town begins to be a town?) Our language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; and this surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs with straight regular streets and uniform houses.
Page 122 - Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), has written the seminal work on this theme.
Page 15 - But it is from the far more difficult achievement of seeing ourselves amongst others, as a local example of the forms human life has locally taken, a case among cases, a world among worlds, that the largeness of mind, without which objectivity is self-congratulation and tolerance a sham, comes.
Page 68 - He is left making ...a continuous dialectical tacking between the most local of local detail and the most global of global structure in such a way as to bring them into simultaneous view.
Page 57 - The trick is not to get yourself into some inner correspondence of spirit with your informants.
Page 9 - Translation," here, is not a simple recasting of others' ways of putting things in terms of our own ways of putting them (that is the kind in which things get lost), but displaying the logic of their ways of putting them in the locutions of ours...
Page 57 - People use experience-near concepts spontaneously, unself-consciously, as it were colloquially; they do not, except fleetingly and on occasion, recognize that there are any "concepts
Page 95 - I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have for life and my way of expressing it.

About the author (2008)

Clifford Geertz, an American anthropologist, is known for his studies of Islam in Indonesia and Morocco and of the peasant economy of Java. But he is also the leading exponent of an orientation in the social sciences called "interpretation". Social life, according to this view, is organized in terms of symbols whose meaning we must grasp if we are to understand that organization and formulate its principles. Interpretative explanations focus on what institutions, actions, customs, and so on mean to the people involved. What emerges from studies of this kind are not laws of society, and certainly not statistical relationships, but rather interpretations, that is to say, understanding. Geertz taught for 10 years at the University of Chicago and has been the Harold F. Linder professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

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