Carlos del Cairo
University of Arizona, USA

Jefferson Jaramillo Marín
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia


Beginning in the mid-1960s, anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1926-2006) transformed the conventions of writing ethnography. His anthropological project, named symbolic, hermeneutic or interpretative anthropology, was in continuous flux as he elaborated it. According to some, the Geertzian intellectual project was revolutionary, while for others it was reactionary, problematic or lacking in theoretical rigor. In this article we highlight the impact on contemporary social thought of some of the main theoretical and empirical ideas proposed by Geertz. Also, we explore some of the most insightful critiques of Geertz’s anthropological perspective, which is characterized as being deeply critical of other traditions in anthropology and, at the same time, as being the target of critiques from both positivist and postmodernist anthropologists.

Keywords: Clifford Geertz, cultural anthropology, interpretative anthropology, ethnography, contemporary social theory.

Keywords plus: Geertz, Clifford James, 1926-2006 — criticism and interpretation.