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phalangingle in theoryishotcrew

Can I just substitute an interpretive dance in place of a list?

Although I am generally of the opinion that I would never be a member of a club that would have someone like me as a member, I decided to give this a try.

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  1. "Foucault" in "Dictionnaire des philosophes" 1984, - Maurice Florence

 

  1. Distinction - Bourdieu

 

  1. El Laberinto de la Soledad - Paz

 

  1. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life - Goffman

 

  1. Borderlands/La Frontera - Anzaldua

 

  1. The Interpretation of Cultures  - Geertz

 

  1. Aberrations in Black - Ferguson

 

  1. Ain't I a Woman  - bell hooks

 

  1. Giving an Account of Oneself - Butler

 

  1. Selections from the Prison Notebooks - Gramsci


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Comments

Re: Softball

Thanks. Now further:

Do you see any ways in which Geertz's thick description could fail? For example, do you see any essays in which he displays thick description in action but where he fails to accurately attend to the contexts and depths of contexts that thick description seems to promise to elucidate?

Re: Softball

While I think description provides an orientation to cultural analysis, I do not think it is a formalized program that can be said to succeed or fail. Geertz points out the importance of the structures of signification, but to his advantage, he does not attempt to make cultural structure into a 'God term.' In the cockfight essay Geertz provides a thick description of the imaginative universe in which the Balinese Cockfight is signified. Relations of society to nature, human to beasts, masculinity and honor, are all signified through the Balinese Cockfight. While an expansive imaginative universe is sketched out, there is still the question of how members, and various social groups, put these models into practice. For thick description to fully realize its potential, it must not only sketch out a model of culture (a composite account of the various signs, symbols, images, narrative forms, etc that circulate within the village) but also the putting of the model into practice.

The model of culture developed by the analyst must not be confused with that deployed by the subject. (Bourdieu often quotes Marx: 'do not confuse the things of logic with the logic of things). Culture serves as both model OF and model FOR reality. Geertz masterfully portrays the cultural significance of the cock fight, but the essay still leaves open the question of how models are put into practice, circulate differently among various social groups, etc.

The essay is not so much a failure of Geertz to apply thick description, but seems to be more a choice of foreground and background. Geertz cannot discuss everything so he focuses on the cultural model, the aesthetic power of the cock fight.

Re: Softball

In the Cockfight essay, Geertz seems to me to fail to actually contextualize the cockfight within Bali to the extent that his analysis becomes almost meaningless as a way of understanding Balinese culture. Abstracted from it location in society, the cockfight becomes purely aesthetic interpretation but without any real force of reality. Does that make sense? The background seems absent. And it actually seems to me, anyway, to ignore major components of the cultural significance (or evolved cultural significance) of the cockfight instead postulating it as a static thing that can exist out of time. And it isn't necessarily a lack of space to expand, but a purposeful abstraction and objectification of a changeable practice with changeable significance and meaning.

Re: Softball

I agree with most of this, but wouldn't characterize it as meaningless understanding of Balinese culture. It is problematic for Geertz to offer an aesthetic interpretation of the cockfight if his purpose is to describe the mental maps of the participants or to explain their practice. I don't think this is his purpose however. The critique that the interpretation becomes static and that it creates an abstraction and objectification of a changeable practice is valid. But if the purpose of the essay is to locate the Balinese cockfight in the imaginative universe of the cultural codes available in Bali, then the abstraction is not a fatal flaw for the essay. While signification of the cock fight surely means different things to different participants, that its meaning changes over time, and that symbols may be used and understood in differing ways from Geertz, the imaginative universe of symbols and narratives makes possible semiotic practices for (re)constructing the meaning of the cock fight.

The essay does not give us a sense of Bali culture, how the participants describe the cock fight when they are going about their day to day activities, when they are celebrating at a festival and reflecting on the significance of Bali culture, etc. The essay does, however, offer a picture of a wide range of symbols that can serve as semiotic resources.

Re: Softball

The essay does, however, offer a picture of a wide range of symbols that can serve as semiotic resources.

It does, and this is why the essay is referred to in the study of Greek tragedy as a theoretical work as opposed to an actual analysis. As an actual ethnography, though, it fails in many ways.

Re: Softball

Could you perhaps discuss the relationship between Geertz's thick description and Foucault's archaeology? It is obvious that there is one. Where do they differ? Where do they overlap? What is Geertz's purpose in borrowing and yet not borrowing from Foucault in his own methods?

Re: Softball

Do you know Roseberry's critique of Geertz? If so, what do you think of it?

Re: Softball

Ha ha. I wasn't specifically going to bring up Rosenberry, but I mentioned some of the other critiques. The Rosenberry is good.

Re: Softball

I am not familiar with this critique.

Re: Softball

If you search our archives under "applications" you will find a discussion of it on my app.