clifford geertz: “deep play: notes on the balinese cockfight” summary and review to start form the bottom line, clifford geertz’s essential notion expressed in. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is one of Clifford Geertz’s most influential articles which illustrates not only the meaning of a given. Perhaps one of the most widely read anthropological essays, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” by Clifford Geertz is available.

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Self-mockery seems to be an essential ingredient for making an anthropological classic. But I think the real appeal of this article is the way the reader is drawn into the process of anthropological discovery. The article starts with a heart-pounding chase. Cockfights are illegal and the sudden appearance of the police during one of the first fights Geertz and his wife witnessed sent everyone scurrying home:. On the established anthropological principle, When in Rome, my wife and I decided, only slightly less instantaneously than everyone else, that the thing to do was run too.

We ran down the main village street, northward, away from where we were living, for we were on that side of the ring.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Brooke Drover on Prezi

About half-way down another fugitive ducked suddenly into a compound-his own, it turned out-and we, seeing nothing ahead of us but rice fields, open country, and a very high volcano, followed him. As the three of us came tumbling into ppay courtyard, his wife, who had apparently been through this sort of thing before, whipped out a table, a tablecloth, three chairs, and three cups of tea, and we all, without any explicit communication whatsoever, sat down, commenced to sip tea, and sought to compose ourselves.

This story serves two purposes: The first is to draw the audience into the society along with the anthropologist.

Not only was he there, but he was embraced by the members of the society who loved his clumsy ways. William Roseberry thinks so.

To ask of any cultural text, be it a cockfight or a folktale, who is talking, who is balinrse talked to, what is being talked about, and what form of action is being called for, is to move cultural analysis to a new level that renders the old antinomies of materialism and idealism irrelevant. In some ways Geertz is one of the most well known anthropologists outside of the discipline, but my sense is that his influence within the discipline itself has waned.

Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. Balinese Cockfights and the Seduction of Anthropology. Social Research 49 Like a lot of people I read the Balinese cockfight article in my anthropological youth and I remember enjoying it although the Person, Time, and Conduct essay in pn same balknese was the one that really pla my attention. To me most of paly articles in Understanding Culture share a common feature: Geertz notices, articulates, and illustrates a conceptual problem then ends with no how-to program for solving the problem he raises.


He persuades me that thick description is better than the thin explanations that anthropologist typically provide but offers no criteria for deciding when one description is better than another. To learn that Note lose themselves in cockfights, which are, at least from one perspective, exemplars of selves they want to be, victors in short, bloody, violent conflicts that elevate status may contribute to our understanding of why Bali, now normally seen as a beautiful tourist trap inhabited by lovely people with an extraordinary level of self-control, was, shortly after WWII, the scene of massacres that killed I need to check the numbers around 80, people.

Comparisons with, for example, Cambodia leap to mind, together with the memory that amok was imported into English from Malay. That what the cockfight has nottes say about Bali is not altogether without perception and the disquiet it expresses about the general pattern of Balinese life is not balinrse without reason is attested by the fact [what a marvellous example of passive voice and absence of the author] that in two weeks of Decemberduring the upheavals following the unsuccessful coup in Djakarta, between forty and eighty thousand Balinese in a population of about two million were killed, largely by one another—the worst outburst in the country.

I find it particularly troubling that Roseberry, ostensibly a political economist, also manages to elide this political context of the contemporary cockfights in favour of some of the economic aspects of their history which I grant is important, but no more important than the contemporary context. His discussion of the role of sexual [gender? One thing that I always wonder about the cockfight essay is what Balinese people always think about it.

Savage Minds

Has an Indonesian scholar written a reaction to the piece? Rola brings up an interesting point. My earlier comment got cut short because I had to leave suddenly, but I had wanted to point out something else.

For Geertz, culture is mainly psychological and personal. The idea of culture as a set of symbols that we share back and forth seems almost custom-designed to avoid the kinds of political economic analysis Rola and myself would like to see. The only place power comes into play in this formulation is in who has access to particular symbols.

To come round full circle, it balinesf be worth remembering the material and political conditions of fieldwork in the s, 60s and 70s. The native is not the only one affected by this context. Think Cold War, Vietnam War, anti-colonial struggles, rampant and deep justified suspicion that anthropologists were Geerrtz agents up to God knows what. In Taiwan, when Ruth and I were doing fieldwork inthe first thing we did when arriving in Puli was report to the foreign affairs policeman who seemed, in fact, a very pleasant person…but anyway.


It was, moreover, still possible for people who talked too openly about certain topics to get a knock on the door in the middle of the night. Doing fieldwork geeftz Taiwan in those years meant, among other things, being constantly aware that certain topics were off-limits. Much as I respect oneman, this is just plain wrong. In The Interpretation of Cultures Geertz explicitly contrasts his position that symbols are found in public behavior with public meanings to psychological approaches that equate culture with mental models Ward Goodenough or subconscious emotions Culture and Personality studies influenced by Freudthus making culture invisible or a theoretical artifact created by the observer.

When he talks about culture as ths, the text is fully material, like words printed in a book. The problem is to learn how to read cockdight, not to decipher something else going on behind the scenes.

I suppose Geertz would admit that the interpretive process is heavily determined by all sort of outside factors, but he rarely makes this a factor in his writing.

That makes a lot more sense, and, in my case, explains why, when I went looking for how to produce a thick description, I turned to Victor Turner. Is any of what Roseberry is saying new? It seems important to remember that Geertz was thf formed deeo Talcott Parsons, and that Interpretation of Culture was the big break with that tradition Religion of Java being pretty different.

Sure, we can find plenty of things wrong with it now, but it remains pretty incredible: We may have moved away from the type of culturalism that ignores the oh and economic context, but it seems pretty banal to point this out, at least in American anthropology French anthropology being another story.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

During the s, commentaries on the Balinese cockfight essay have become cockfitht common, developing, for the most part, in apparent independence…. At the time the original version of this chapter was published, inthis academic industry was undeveloped.

Unlike osme of the more recent commentaries, this essay is directed at a more political cockfoght of culture. ANd, of course the fact that we can still develop a pretty hearty discussion feep that the issues raised by Geertz around the time I was born are still far from totally settled. Cockfights are illegal and the sudden appearance of the police during one of the first fights Geertz and his wife witnessed sent everyone scurrying home: More Geertz online at HyperGeertz.

Works cited in this post: Sennett — The Craftsman in links, no particular order.