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Clifford Geertz’s Interpretive Anthropology

Between Text, Experience and Theory


Katarzyna Majbroda

Over the last decades Clifford Geertz’ interpretive anthropology has played an important role in the field of socio-cultural anthropology. The study presents the critical reception of his thoughts in Western countries and Polish anthropology. Interpretive anthropology is based on the category of interpretation and the concept of thick description: the assumed indexical nature of reality and the possibility of unraveling its order through semiotic analysis has influenced the epistemological reflection in anthropology, the approach to theory, fieldwork and the research process.
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Chapter I. Rethinking anthropology as a science


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Chapter I.  Rethinking anthropology as a science

No science can jump out of its network of practice5

Is anthropology a science?

This still-valid question was posed in 2010, during the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. According to the authors of the article What is Science in Anthropology, earlier discussions of science in anthropology suggest that anthropologists have always been confused about what science means in the context of anthropology.6 In the tradition of the history of ideas, science is most often understood as the organized cognitive activity of humans that aims at building statements on laws governing reality. Usually the main emphasis is on scientific theories, their structure and specific research methods. I shall discuss further these aspects of science in the context of anthropology. Meanwhile it is worth stressing that the goal of science is not only to formulate judgments and statements on the world, but also to explain different problems and phenomena, and to attempt to solve them.

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