Local Knowledge, Local History: Geertz and Beyond

Aletta Bieirsack

in The New Cultural History

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 1989 | ISBN: 9780520064287
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520908925 | DOI:
Local Knowledge, Local History: Geertz and Beyond

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This chapter presents an account of Clifford Geertz and his “interpretation of cultures.” It turns to Marshall Sahlins and his Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities. It also suggests that a dose of Sahlins might be salutary for future work on the history of culture, given his “rethinking” of structure and event, or structure and history, in dialectical terms that rejuvenate both halves. It then reviews Geertz's influence on the textualizing move in anthropology and shows how the concerns of anthropologists are intersecting increasingly with those of historians of culture. In Historical Metaphors, questions of genesis and meaning become intertwined. Historical Metaphors and Writing Culture propose alternate routes to the historicization of a field that, until recently, had ignored Frederick Maitland's dictum and charted ahistorical, even antihistorical, courses.

Keywords: Clifford Geertz; Marshall Sahlins; Historical Metaphors; Writing Culture; anthropology; historicization

Chapter.  8535 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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