A Geertzian Cockfight: Symbolic Interpretism, Marxist Materialism or Synthesis?

Balinese Cockfight 1949 by Alred Palmer

Balinese Cockfight 1949 by Alred Palmer

This paper compares and contrasts a Marxian materialist approach with a symbolic interpretive approach to describing Geertz’s cockfight from “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” in The Interpretation of Cultures (pages 412-453) from the vantage of its participants and its spectators.  By doing so I hope to show the limitations of each of these often-times oppositional theoretical perspectives. However, using these perspectives together, in synthesis, can create a more situated and complete ethnographic record of a culture (Behar 1997:28; Ortner 2006:453). First I will present the foundations of each theoretical model and then I will compare and contrast each as applied to Geertz’s cockfight essay. Continue reading


Individual and Society: The contrasting views of Benedict, Geertz and Wilson

What is the relationship between the individual and his or her society/culture? Does a person’s culture and society determine his beliefs and behavior? Or do the individual beliefs and behaviors based on self-interest, collectively comprise a culture and determine the cohesion of a society? In this paper I will compare and contrast the views of Ruth Benedict, Clifford Geetz and David Sloan Wilson on the relationship between people and their culture and society. Continue reading