chapter  2
5 Pages

Academic Context

ByAbena Dadze-Arthur

When Clifford Geertz wrote The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), a new generation of scholars was emerging, holding the belief that anthropologists ought to study a culture from the perspectives of the people living in that culture. Like his academic predecessors, Geertz believed in the continued importance of anthropology as an academic discipline. Unlike prior academics, he believed that anthropologists must interpret other cultures not from the outside, but from the cultures' own point of view. Colonial anthropologists had studied cultures "objectively" from the outside. At Harvard, Geertz studied with the anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn, who introduced him to cultural anthropology. To this day, anthropologists continue to explore cultural phenomena using ethnography. Weber's social theory informed Geertz's interpretive approach to meaning. Geertz particularly adopted the Weberian belief that scholars cannot interpret people's actions unless they understand the meanings individuals attach to those actions.