From The Jakarta Post

Geertz' legacy 'still inspiring to the young generation'

American anthropologist Clifford James Geertz, 80, widely known here for his extensive research on social anthropology, died of complications on Monday (Tuesday in Jakarta) following heart surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

He last servevd as Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, New Jersey.

Remembered by students among other traits as "humorous", he once said in a 1999 lecture that summing up his career "before God and Everybody is a bit of a humbug."

Geertz, who initially aspired to be a famous novelist, is most known here for his division of Javanese society into three groups:Abangan (syncretists), santri (devout Muslims) and priyayi (feudal bureaucrats).

"It was from Geertz that scholars learned about religion in Java," wrote a student of Islamic studies, Muhammad Ali in a posting on the Internet in the wake of his death.

Apart from extensive research in East Java, he also conducted studies in Bali and Sumatra in the 1950s.

Achmad Fedyani Saifuddin, editor-in-chief of Jurnal Antropologi Indonesia, published by the University of Indonesia (UI) said although the research was carried out over 50 years ago ago it still is "a source of inspiration to the younger generation."

Meanwhile, George Junus Aditjondro, lecturer in religion and cultural studies at the postgraduate program at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, said that Geertz' legacy was to pioneer "the framing of Indonesia within a non-Marxian perspective" for the purposes of a Weberian, cultural analysis. Max Weber was a highly influential sociologist.

Aditjondro said in the 1960s the U.S. was seeking to balance Marxian, class analysis of Indonesian society among others by sociologist WF Wertheim.

Aditjondro, who studied sociology at Cornell University in New York, says that even today the Geertz framework explains the dominance of cultural analysis in the explanation of conflict areas. In the case of the current situation in Poso, Central Sulawesi, he said, such analysis would ignore the interests of those seeking to control natural resources there.

Born in San Francisco, Aug. 23, 1926, Geertz served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. He received his bachelor's degree in philosophy from Antioch College in 1950 and his Ph.D in 1956 from Harvard, where he had studied social anthropology.

Among his books are The Religion of Java (1960), Peddlers and Princes (1963), Agricultural Involution: the process of ecological change in Indonesia (1964), Islam Observed, Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia (1968), and Negara: The Theater State in Nineteenth Century Bali (1980).

His former wife Hildred Geertz, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University, is also known here for her work on kinship in Javanese families.

Some of his books have been translated into over 20 languages.

Geertz is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and scholarly awards.

He received the Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prize (1992) and the Bintang Jasa Utama (First Class Merit Star) from the Indonesian government in 2002.

Over the years, he received honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton universities, among others.

Dr. Geertz is survived by Hildred Geertz and his second wife, Dr. Karen Blu, a retired anthropologist from the Department of Anthropology at New York University.
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