Geertz, Clifford

Geertz, Clifford (James)

(1923–  ) cultural anthropologist; born in San Francisco. He studied at Antioch College and Harvard, taught anthropology at the Universities of California (1958–60) and Chicago (1960–70), and became a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. (1970). His expeditions to Java (1953–54) and Bali (1957–58) resulted in a series of works on environment and economy, social change, and religion, including The Religion of Java (1960), Agricultural Involution (1963), Peddlers and Princes (1963), and Person, Time and Conflict in Bali (1966). In the 1960s and 1970s he made several field trips to Morocco, from which he developed a comparative approach to religion, as outlined in Islam Observed (1968), and to processes of social change. His theoretical essays on themes ranging from art and ideology to politics and nationalism were collected in Interpretation of Cultures (1973) and Local Knowledge (1983). In those works he advocated an interpretive approach, in which cultures could be compared to literary texts.