After The Fact / Edition 1

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Overview

"Suppose," Clifford Geertz suggests, "having entangled yourself every now and again over four decades or so in the goings-on in two provincial towns, one a Southeast Asian bend in the road, one a North African outpost and passage point, you wished to say something about how those goings-on had changed." A narrative presents itself, a tour of indices and trends, perhaps a memoir? None, however, will suffice, because in forty years more has changed than those two towns--the anthropologist, for instance, anthropology itself, even the intellectual and moral world in which the discipline exists. And so, in looking back on four decades of anthropology in the field, Geertz has created a work that is characteristically unclassifiable, a personal history that is also a retrospective reflection on developments in the human sciences amid political, social, and cultural changes in the world. An elegant summation of one of the most remarkable careers in anthropology, it is at the same time an eloquent statement of the purposes and possibilities of anthropology's interpretive powers.

To view his two towns in time, Pare in Indonesia and Sefrou in Morocco, Geertz adopts various perspectives on anthropological research and analysis during the post-colonial period, the Cold War, and the emergence of the new states of Asia and Africa. Throughout, he clarifies his own position on a broad series of issues at once empirical, methodological, theoretical, and personal. The result is a truly original book, one that displays a particular way of practicing the human sciences and thus a particular--and particularly efficacious--view of what these sciences are, have been, and should become.

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Editorial Reviews

New Yorker
'It is difficult to know what to do with the past,' Geertz writes, but of his own past he has made an elegant, almost meditative volume of reflections. In prose that is sometimes liquid, sometimes faux-Jamesian, Geertz looks back over the sites of his anthropological labors: Sefrou, in Morocco; Pare, in Indonesia; the University of Chicago; the Institute for Advanced Study, at Princeton...The reader is allowed to witness how fruitfully accident and idea have mingled in the making of one anthropologist's career.
New York Times Book Review

This long-awaited professional memoir by...one of anthropology's most illustrious demigods plays on the ambiguity of method in a curious discipline that began in the early twentieth century as something of a treasure hunt after lives and cultures in exotic, faraway places...Worked in between Geertz's ethnographic tales, anecdotes, and reminiscences of fieldwork in Sefrou and Pare is the engrossing story of a few key moments in American social science during the second half of the twentieth century as he participated in them.
— Nancy Scheper-Hughes

London Review of Books

After the Fact is a retrospective on a remarkable career, and on the worlds that shaped its characteristic contours.
— Benedict Anderson

Antioch Review

This memoir by the eminent cultural anthropologist functions at several levels. It is worth reading just for the well-chosen and narrated anecdotes from Geertz's fieldwork in Indonesia and Morocco. This book is also an anthropological critique of the extensive political-economic changes in the Third World over the past 40 years. On a more philosophical level, Geertz has written a series of meditative reflections on the nature of anthropological knowledge...Geertz shows the value of building patterns and connections from multiple, nuanced, first-hand observations of an anthropologist.
— Adan Quan

Transition

Geertz's disarmingly casual [book is]...a history of his relationships with the towns in Indonesia and Morocco where he's done his most sustained fieldwork, cast in terms of a history of the ideas that have shaped that work...Its deftly rendered anecdotes always serve as illustrations of concepts...Elegant.
— Michael Gorra

Society

A new book by Clifford Geertz is an event...[The] chapters on Java and Morocco...are marked by the impressive learning, the illuminating insights, the marvelous description of scene and event, the masterful summary of complex social history, and the evocative characterization of cultural heritage, as well as the elegant style, the pithy phrase, and the illuminating trope, that we have come to expect from vintage Geertz...In sum, an intellectual feast.
— Melford E. Spiro

American Anthropologist

After the Fact is Clifford Geertz's Jerusalem-Harvard lectures, jointly sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University. Appropriate to its venue, the books addresses major questions, making strong theoretical and empirical claims. For that reason, After the Fact is a rather touching confession, even a testament.
— Paul Rabinow

New York Times Book Review - Nancy Scheper-Hughes
This long-awaited professional memoir by...one of anthropology's most illustrious demigods plays on the ambiguity of method in a curious discipline that began in the early twentieth century as something of a treasure hunt after lives and cultures in exotic, faraway places...Worked in between Geertz's ethnographic tales, anecdotes, and reminiscences of fieldwork in Sefrou and Pare is the engrossing story of a few key moments in American social science during the second half of the twentieth century as he participated in them.
London Review of Books - Benedict Anderson
After the Fact is a retrospective on a remarkable career, and on the worlds that shaped its characteristic contours.
Antioch Review - Adan Quan
This memoir by the eminent cultural anthropologist functions at several levels. It is worth reading just for the well-chosen and narrated anecdotes from Geertz's fieldwork in Indonesia and Morocco. This book is also an anthropological critique of the extensive political-economic changes in the Third World over the past 40 years. On a more philosophical level, Geertz has written a series of meditative reflections on the nature of anthropological knowledge...Geertz shows the value of building patterns and connections from multiple, nuanced, first-hand observations of an anthropologist.
Transition - Michael Gorra
Geertz's disarmingly casual [book is]...a history of his relationships with the towns in Indonesia and Morocco where he's done his most sustained fieldwork, cast in terms of a history of the ideas that have shaped that work...Its deftly rendered anecdotes always serve as illustrations of concepts...Elegant.
Society - Melford E. Spiro
A new book by Clifford Geertz is an event...[The] chapters on Java and Morocco...are marked by the impressive learning, the illuminating insights, the marvelous description of scene and event, the masterful summary of complex social history, and the evocative characterization of cultural heritage, as well as the elegant style, the pithy phrase, and the illuminating trope, that we have come to expect from vintage Geertz...In sum, an intellectual feast.
American Anthropologist - Paul Rabinow
After the Fact is Clifford Geertz's Jerusalem-Harvard lectures, jointly sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University. Appropriate to its venue, the books addresses major questions, making strong theoretical and empirical claims. For that reason, After the Fact is a rather touching confession, even a testament.
Transition
Geertz's disarmingly casual [book is]...a history of his relationships with the towns in Indonesia and Morocco where he's done his most sustained fieldwork, cast in terms of a history of the ideas that have shaped that work...Its deftly rendered anecdotes always serve as illustrations of concepts...Elegant.
— Michael Gorra
Society
A new book by Clifford Geertz is an event...[The] chapters on Java and Morocco...are marked by the impressive learning, the illuminating insights, the marvelous description of scene and event, the masterful summary of complex social history, and the evocative characterization of cultural heritage, as well as the elegant style, the pithy phrase, and the illuminating trope, that we have come to expect from vintage Geertz...In sum, an intellectual feast.
— Melford E. Spiro
London Review of Books
After the Fact is a retrospective on a remarkable career, and on the worlds that shaped its characteristic contours.
— Benedict Anderson
New York Times Book Review
This long-awaited professional memoir by...one of anthropology's most illustrious demigods plays on the ambiguity of method in a curious discipline that began in the early twentieth century as something of a treasure hunt after lives and cultures in exotic, faraway places...Worked in between Geertz's ethnographic tales, anecdotes, and reminiscences of fieldwork in Sefrou and Pare is the engrossing story of a few key moments in American social science during the second half of the twentieth century as he participated in them.
— Nancy Scheper-Hughes
American Anthropologist
After the Fact is Clifford Geertz's Jerusalem-Harvard lectures, jointly sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University. Appropriate to its venue, the books addresses major questions, making strong theoretical and empirical claims. For that reason, After the Fact is a rather touching confession, even a testament.
— Paul Rabinow
Antioch Review
This memoir by the eminent cultural anthropologist functions at several levels. It is worth reading just for the well-chosen and narrated anecdotes from Geertz's fieldwork in Indonesia and Morocco. This book is also an anthropological critique of the extensive political-economic changes in the Third World over the past 40 years. On a more philosophical level, Geertz has written a series of meditative reflections on the nature of anthropological knowledge...Geertz shows the value of building patterns and connections from multiple, nuanced, first-hand observations of an anthropologist.
— Adan Quan
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sefrou, a Moroccan town nestled at the foot of the Middle Atlas Mountains, was an enchanted oasis where Berbers, Arabs, Jews and French settlers coexisted, when cultural anthropologist Geertz first went there in 1963. But by 1986, the French and Jews had left, and the population, which had tripled, was deeply divided between old-timers and recent immigrants, mostly Berbers. The other focal point of this affecting scholarly memoir, Pare, Indonesia, a town in central Java where Geertz has done fieldwork since 1952, was wracked by internecine combat among Islamic, nationalist and Communist parties until the army imposed military rule in 1965. Today, status-ridden ideas of right and propriety dominate daily life as Pare's inhabitants attempt to reconcile group diversity with ideals of national unity. Using his fieldwork in these towns as a prism, Princeton anthropologist Geertz charts the transformation of cultural anthropology from a study of ``primitive'' people to a multidisciplinary investigation of a particular culture's symbolic systems, its interactions with the larger forces of history and modernization. (Feb.)
Booknews
Anthropologist Clifford Geertz looks back on four decades of anthropology in a work that is part personal history, part retrospective reflection on developments in the human sciences amid political, social, and cultural changes in the world. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674008724
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Series: Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Clifford Geertz is Harold F. Linder Professor of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.
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Table of Contents

Towns

Countries

Cultures

Hegemonies

Disciplines

Modernities

Notes

Index

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