By William Roseberry
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Extra info for Anthropologies and Histories: Essays in Culture, History, and Political Economy
A lth o u g h this essay already contains m o re quota tions than it can easily bear, it closes w it h yet another. T h e quotation returns us to the p r o m is in g appro ach to culture e x pressed in “ T h i c k D e s c r ip tio n ,” a n d it is a statement of connec tion rather th an separation. T h e passage establishes a standard for cultural interpretatio n that is in accord w it h the premises of this essay. T h a t it also serves as a standard in terms of w h ic h Geertz’s cultural analysis can be criticized should be a pp a r e n t.
M arx and Engels 1970 : 42) A n u m b e r of aspects of this m a te r ia lis m , as expressed in this passage a n d later in T h e G e r m a n Ideology, deserve m e n t io n . First, it is a m a te r ia lis m that starts not w it h nature or w it h a postulated eco n o m ic structure b u t w it h a h u m a n It begins not w it h m atter but w it h the po pulatio n. social, co nceived as material. Second, it is a m a te r ia lis m that is active. People enter into d efin ite relations w it h others a n d w it h nature, but as they enter into those relations they transform both nature a n d themselves.
T h e suggested response: in h e r it in g daughters should renounce their in h e r i tance, m o v e from the region, m a r r y elsewhere, a n d offer a ref uge for their fleeing brothers. Taylor a n d Rebel show that such a response is in accord w it h d e m o g r a p h ic e vid e n c e from late- eig hteen th-cen tury Hesse, although it cannot yet be d e m o n strated w h e th e r the process they suggest actually occurred. 6 It m ig h t be a rg ued that this is precisely w h a t Geertz does.
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