Clifford James Geertz (August 23, 1926 – October 30, 2006) was an American anthropologist who is known for his work in symbolic anthropology, and considered "for three decades...the single most influential cultural anthropologist in the United States". He served until his death as professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.
Clifford Geertz was born August 23rd, 1926 in San Francisco. His parents divorced when he was three and he was raised by a distant relative in rural California. In 1943, at the age of seventeen, Geertz volunteered for the U.S. Navy, in which he served for two years (1943-1945). After the end of World War Two, like many other servicemen, he went to college in 1946 with funding from the GI Bill. At Antioch College, English was Geertz’s first major, as he wanted to become a writer. However, he found English too “constraining” and became a philosophy major, where almost any class he took would count toward his major (Geertz 2000a:6). Geertz graduated from Antioch in 1950 with an A.B. in Philosophy (Inglis 2000:3-6).
Subsequently, Geertz attended graduate school at Harvard University, earning his Ph.D. in anthropology from the Department of Social Relations in 1956. Both his undergraduate education and graduate education emphasized the humanities. The Department of Social Relations placed cultural anthropology next to psychology and sociology, not next to the traditional partners of cultural anthropology: archeology and physical anthropology. The deep readings in the humanities influenced Geertz greatly .
- Books by Geertz
- Religion of Java, Glencoe: Free Press, 1960.
- Agricultural Involution, the Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia, Berkeley: University of california Press, 1963.
- The Social History of an Indonesian Town, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1965.
- Islam Observed, Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia, Chicago & London: University Of Chicago Press, 1968; Phoenix Edition, 1971.
- The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books, 1973.
- editor, Myth, Symbol and Culture, New York: Norton, 1974.
- with Hildred Geertz, Kinship in Bali, Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1975.
- with H. Geertz and L. Rosen, Meaning and Order in Moroccan Society, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979
- Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology, Basic Books, 1983, 2000.
- Conocimiento local: ensayos sobre la interpretación de las culturas, trans. Alberto López Bargados, Barcelona: Editorial Paidós Ibérica, 1994. (in Spanish)
- "The Uses of Diversity", in Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Vol. 7, ed. Sterling M. McMurrin, Cambridge University Press, and Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986, pp 251-275.
- Los Usos De La Diversidad, trans. José Nicolau La Roda, Nicolás Sánchez Dura and Alfredo Taberna, Barcelona: Ediciones Paidós Ibérica, 1996. (in Spanish)
- Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988.
- Available Light: Anthropological Reflections on Philosophical Topics, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.
- Articles, papers, chapters by Geertz
- "Religion as a cultural system", In: The interpretation of cultures: selected essays, Fontana Press, 1993, pp.87-125.
- "An Inconstant Profession: The Anthropological Life in Interesting Times", Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 31 (2002), pp. 1-19.