Clifford Geertz

Nov 1st, 2006, in Society, by

Famous cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz dies at the age of 80.

Clifford Geertz, a pioneer of the study of Indonesian cultures and peoples, died of heart failure at the University of Pennsylvania hospital on October 30th.

Clifford Geertz
Clifford Geertz.

Geertz is most well-known for his study of, in particular, Javanese religion, economic development, traditional political structures, and village and family life, and his work in this area has had a profound impact on western understanding of Java. His division of Javanese society into three stratas:

  • abangan
  • santri
  • priyayi

became a ubiquitous way of discussing the life, history, and politics of the crowded island of Java, and Indonesia generally, and can be found expressed originally in his work The Religion of Java (1960).

Apart from The Religion of Java his other important works include Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia (1968), The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (1973, 2000), and Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth Century Bali (1980).


5 Comments on “Clifford Geertz”

  1. avatar Orang kampung says:

    May he rest in heaven. I happen to have read his works, he is a man with an incredible talent to understand culture and subject matter in a profound way! I hope many his new generation will born and prosper! We need more people like him to understand this diverse world. We have now are tons of bullies who speak out of anger and have lack of interest in details of research or studies.

    Good Bye Geertz

  2. avatar Andrew says:

    Talking about Javanese culture – my aunt happens to be married to an Australian who is a Javanese Literature (or whatever they call it) professor. When he visits Indonesia, he speaks with my older maid in Krama Inggil. My young maids don’t even understand it.

    Ironic isn’t it – there are far more foreigners than locals who study and become expert in various cultures of Indonesia.

  3. avatar Hassan says:

    yes, that’s too bad, andrew. other people respects our culture more than ourselves. while Indonesians seemed too busy studying and applying western cultures to our everyday life.

  4. avatar Andrew says:

    Which is fine, as long as they don’t forget their own…

  5. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Hassan,
    I think you’re just partially right. The Indonesian people are also busy studying and applying Arabic cultures (they then declare as Islamic culture), aren’t they? There are even a tendency to abandone our identity and to place the foreign culture on a higher level than the local cultures, independent which one the people study and apply.

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