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Lecture 3

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ANTH 209
Emilie Parent

Geertz, Religion and the Symbolists Symbolic Anthropology Studies the way people understand their surroundings by using symbols Also actions of other members of their society Symbols and processes of the meaning of human life Means that everything we do is meaningful "Beliefs become comprehensible when understood as part of a cultural system of meaning" Actions are guided by interpretation, allowing symbolism to aid in interpreting ideal as well as material activities Two approaches Geertz Operations of culture How symbols operate within culture Victor Turner Operations of society How symbols operate within society Focuses on the realm of thoughts, meaning and ideas Defines culture in terms of systems of signs Geertz Harvard graduate Definition of culture An historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life. Analysis of culture cannot be done through an experimental science in search of law Interpretive science in search of meaning "Culture is expressed by the external symbols that a society uses rather than being locked inside people's heads. Societies use these symbols to express their worldview, value- orientation, ethos." Extrinsic information Aim of interpretive anthropology Thick description Hermeneutics
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