Anthropology Stories

A Social Anthropology blog of art, stories, history,ideas,culture, explorations, and information about internships, field schools, etc.

10 Famous Cultural Anthropologists

9. Clifford Geertz

American anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1926-2006) earned fame for his work on symbolic, or interpretive, anthropology. He made a name for himself analyzing not just the form of cultural objects, but what they meant to specific groups of people [source: Encyclopedia Brittanica].

Geertz served in the military before heading out on his academic path within the social sciences. A few years later, he was one of a few anthropologists chosen to complete field research for a project based in Indonesia. He spent many years in the area, performing extensive work in the region and among its people. He also spent considerable time in Morocco, researching and comparing religions [source: Institute for Advanced StudyYarrow].

Geertz’s field work led to his theory that “things” within a culture can possess important symbolic meaning and contribute to perspectives about the surrounding world [source: YarrowIAS]. He became a proponent and pioneer of the use of “thick description” to explain his research methods. The process aims to describe actions and subjects while recognizing their context and deeper meaning [source: Geertz].

In addition to work in the field, Geertz spent much of his time in academia and the publishing world. He became a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, wrote notable works, including “The Interpretation of Cultures” and received many awards from the international community.

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