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Clifford Geertz
Born (1926-08-23)August 23, 1926
Died October 30, 2006(2006-10-30) (aged 80)
Nationality American
Alma mater Antioch College (B.A.)
Harvard University (Ph.D.)
Scientific career
Fields Anthropology
Institutions University of Chicago Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey
Doctoral advisor Talcott Parsons
Doctoral students James Siegel, James Boon, Lawrence Rosen, Abdellah Hammoudi, Sherry Ortner, Paul Rabinow, David Szanton
Influences Talcott Parsons, Gilbert Ryle, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Max Weber, Paul Ricoeur, Alfred Schütz
Influenced Stephen Greenblatt, Quentin Skinner

Clifford James Geertz (August 23, 1926 – October 30, 2006) was an American anthropologist. He is known for his strong support for and influence on the practice of symbolic anthropology. He was considered for 30 years one of the most important cultural anthropologists in the United States. He was also a retired professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, until his death.

Geertz received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from some fifteen colleges and universities, including Harvard University, the University of Chicago and the University of Cambridge. He was married first to the anthropologist Hildred Geertz. After their divorce, he married Karen Blu, also an anthropologist. Clifford Geertz died of complications following heart surgery on October 30, 2006.

Main ideas and contributions

At the University of Chicago, Geertz became a champion of symbolic anthropology, a framework which gives prime attention to the role of symbols in constructing public meaning. In his seminal work The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), Geertz outlined culture as "a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life."

Legacy

Geertz's research and ideas had a strong influence on 20th century academia, including modern anthropology and communication studies, and for geographers, ecologists, political scientists, scholars of religion, historians, and other humanists.

Honors

  • Association for Asian Studies (AAS), 1987 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies

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