RELIGIOUS STUDIES 200
CRITIQUE OF CLIFFORD GEERTZ
A nice segue from classical and modern theorists and into post modern and post colonial stances.
"My argument is that there cannot be a universal deﬁnition of religion, not only because its constituent elements
and relationships are historical speciﬁc, but because that deﬁnition is itself the historical product of discursive
processes." Asad, 299.
notice discursive processes is directly foucauldian
ﬁts in nice with arnal, mccutcheon, lincoln...
"relationships between objects or events uniquely brought together as complexes or as concepts, having at once an
intelelctual, instrumental and emotional signiﬁcance"
- not too important for his argument, don't worry about studying it i guess..
- symbols we call religious are not set in stone. they are not even obviously religious in the ﬁrst place.
- no explanation for why a symbol is religious as opposed to not religions ie mana vs Grand Canyon
- power is invested in these symbols
- what makes something religious is not simply because religion is out there but because certain power structures
deﬁne what gets to be religious.
- SYMBOLS INVOLVE RELATIONSHIPS, symbols are not intrinsically valid or meaningful. the maple leaf is
symbolic of canada but it requires the understanding of all kinds of relationships. power has much to do with the
relationships behind the symbols, and geertz ignores the mechanisms which make a symbol symbolic.
- symbols change over time, there is nothing given about them
- geertz ignores the power structures that inﬂuence how a symbol is understood or made symbolic
ie the ﬁrst four hundred years of christianity there were no crosses as symbols, instead a symbol of a ﬁsh like the
story of jonas or christ in his skivvies running around healing people. wasn't till the fourth or ﬁfth century that
crosses become signiﬁcant and t