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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

Oh, and maybe I will tag on here with a specific criticism:

Let me actually pose a new question here referring back to your first comment on Thick Description to get at the problems that many have with it and see how you address that concern as part of your answer to a_priori's excellent question.

For Geertz, the three boys winking can look to the unobservant as just all simple winking. But the deep thinking will see the complexities of the situation, according to Geertz and will understand the multilayered communications and miscommunications at play. For some critics, the approach of Geertz to anthropological observation is most closely aligned with the "insular ruminations" of the literary scholar than the scientist. The differentiation between fictional representations and actual representation is moot. His method (and I think he is offering a method of "reading" culture even if it fails as such) does not account for misinformation from informants, for historical or contemporary context or for political or even social realities. In his attempt to disconnect from general theories and synoptic pictures, he creates instead isolated and insular moments (and here I am paraphrasing a specific critic)

More importantly, though are the charges by critics of nativism and aestheticizing with dirty reality (like the political coup that led to bloodbaths in Bali shortly after he left there) get in the way, interrupt Geertz's mental exercise.

What do you make of these charges?
Our previous discussion ended with placing Geertz on the side of theory cast as different from an empirical ethnographic text. This common criticism emerges again when Geertz is positioned as a literary scholar. Geertz does indeed draw on the analytic tools of literary theory, but his "text" is not a literary document. Social life as text peaks critics ears. 'Only an intellectual could describe the world as text, as something to be read and contemplated from a distance'. Further, given Geertz's advocacy for a semiotic approach to culture, these critics argue that the text metaphor requires the bracketing of signs and symbols from "for historical or contemporary context or for political or even social realities" [I cut off the misinformation from informants piece of the criticism because I need to think about that some more].

I would respond to these criticisms by pointing to "Ideology as Cultural System" and "Deep Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight". In IC Geertz is critiquing approaches that reduce ideology to psychological or social systems. Geertz argues for a consideration of the cultural system in addition to the psychological and social system (see outline of argument in previous discussion). He isn't making the argument that analysis of cultural systems take the place of psychological and sociological analysis. Instead he points to the inadequacy of analysis that lacks an interpretative theory of culture.

The "Deep Play" essay includes a discussion of arrival, initial relations with natives, observations of cocks fights, accounts of everyday language, and observational data on the size of bets at cock fights. Geertz is not providing insular ruminations nor is he simply offering a reading of the cockfight. In the essay he notes practices of housing the cocks and conventions for treating the body of cocks after fights. He also notes that before Dutch invasion, the cock fight was an open event with adult males establishing their citizenship in carrying their cocks into the ring. "Deep Play" should not be considered a simple rumination or work of "theory" (as opposed to ethnographic). Geertz gathered the material for the essay through fieldwork, not armchair anthropology.

I will have to think more about the nativism and aestheticizing dirty reality criticism (I have not encountered this one yet).
The issue seems to be with Geertz's own presentation of thick description in the cock fight essay. perhaps look at it again and try to see how such charges could be made. Does Geertz actually provide in his own practice what his theory claims to provide? You write: "He isn't making the argument that analysis of cultural systems take the place of psychological and sociological analysis. Instead he points to the inadequacy of analysis that lacks an interpretative theory of culture." but critics would say that his cock fight essay does just that--it takes the place of other forms of analysis and does so poorly because it isn't being treated as a supplement to social and psychological but as apart from them.
I can see how those charges are made and before looking at the essay again I held a very similar view that Geertz is only giving a semiotic account at the expense of social and historical context. The essay does not give a detailed historical account of the cock fight, but it does present the cock fight as something that changes over time in relation to social structure (pre-colonial vs colonial times).

Geertz documents his observations of the cockfights and derives statistical accounts of the matches. He writes "of the fifty-seven matches for which I have exact and reliable data on the center bet, the range is from fifteen ringgits to five hundred, with a mean at eighty-five and with the distribution being rather noticeably trimodal:" and goes on to describe the various sizes of two betting pools. After noting the economy of the cockfight, he argues that the money doesn't make the cock fight deep. The dramatization of the status structure makes the cock fight deep. Betting patterns follow a social logic:

Kin generally do not bet against a member of their kin group; when a kin member is not involved in the match then an member of an allied kin is chosen over a member of a non allied kin; local cocks are supported over foreign cocks. These, and other social patterns, are not interpreted from the "text" of a single cockfight, but from observation of over 50 cock fights.

local cocks are supported over foreign cocks

We usually call that "xenophobia."

The data is on center betting pools. There is no exact reliable data on the side betting and this is where much of what he argues for is undocumented and he relies on logic and propositions. The list he gives later which he says he has extensive and unmistakable evidence for is from informants--thus number 17 in the list.

On the issue of aestheticism: Take for example, "Nearly half the matches are trivial, relatively uninteresting...affairs. But that no more argues against my interpretation that the fact that most painters, poets and playwrights are mediocre argues against the view that artistic effort is directed toward profundity and, with a certain frequency, approximates it."