John McCreery's must-read list

Dan Jorgensen (dwj@JULIAN.UWO.CA)
Wed, 15 Dec 1993 09:09:11 -0500

This was originally sent as email to John McCreery in response to his
request for stuff to read. It bounced, so I'm posting it over the net.

Dan Jorgensen

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Subject: Must-reads

Hello, John. Your postings now seem to work, and I enjoyed your unpacking
of Thick Description.

One item I would vote for is Sherry Ortner's 1984 article, "Theory in
anthropology since the Sixties." It appears in Comparative Studies in
Society and History 26:126-66. Among other things, Geertz gets taken to
task for his version of symbolic anthropology (as opposed to the
Brit-inspired or even Frenchie ones) because there's little sense of
society in his formulation. When we were grad students, we used to
complain about Geertz's "bean-bag effect" -- the sense that when you tried
to grasp something definite, he sagged. (We also used to joke about the
title of Thick Description -- we called it Thin Decryption.)

Cheers, D.

PS: As an addendum, it seems to me that Geertz has consistently been far
less of a PoMo guy or anything else than a fuzzy version of Parsonian
sociology that came out of SocRel at Harvard in the '50s. Although his
hermeneutic stint ("On anthropological understanding" as well as Thin
Decryption) appears to be a departure, I'm not so sure. As for all of his
person stuff, that's revealingly put in context by juxtaposing it with
Mauss and Leenhardt (which is really kind of Durkheim and Levy-Bruhl). He
got a lot of mileage on his writing, but for a dissenting view on this,
see Leach's acerbic comments on Geertz's style in *American Ethnologist.*

Dan Jorgensen Email:
Department of Anthropology Voice: (519) 661-3430 x5096
University of Western Ontario FAX: (519) 661-2157
London, Ontario
Canada N6A 5C2