By William Roseberry
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Additional info for Anthropologies and Histories: Essays in Culture, History, and Political Economy
B e y o n d the obvious fact that it m e a n s different things to different people or differ ent sorts of people, w r itin g . O r, we to break m u s t ask w ho w it h the is (or are) d o in g m etapho r, w ho is d o in g the the acting, the creating of the cultural forms w e interpret. T h is is a key question, for e x a m p l e , in the transformation of the cock- t h e s e d u c tio n 25 of a n th r o p o l o g y fight after the arrival of the D u t c h . In a recent essay, Geertz has p o in ted to the separation of the text from its creation as one of the strengths of the m e ta p h o r .
It was noted earlier that Geertz seems to be w o r k in g w it h a concept of culture as socially constituted w h e th e r he and socially constituting. has realized this We p ro m is e . m u s t no w T h is question essay compares Geertz’s claims for h im s e lf in “ T h ic k D es cr iptio n ” w it h one of his o w n pieces of description. 1 Geertz’s essay is at once a n a tte m p t to show that cultural products can be treated as texts a n d an a tte m pt to interpret one such text. T h e m e t a p h o r of the text is, of course, a favor ite of the practitioners of both structuralism a n d tics, tho ug h Geertz takes his lead from Levi-Strauss.
4 5 3 ) . A c c e p t in g this criticism of red u ctive formulas, w e m u s t ques tion w h e th e r Geertz’s analysis has sociologically handled the Balinese cockfight or p a id sufficient attention to its substance. In w h a t follows, no fu n d a m e n ta l reinterpretation of the B a l i nese cockfight is a tt e m p t e d . S u ch a reinterpretation is the task of a writer m o r e fa m ilia r w it h B a li a n d Indonesia than is the present one. T h is essay s im p ly points to a few elements present in G eertz’s essay b u t o m itte d from the in te r pr e tive exercise that should fo rm a part of a cultural a n d sociological interpretation of the cockfight.