In my ethnography of the state class this semester we read both The Calligraphic State and Colonizing Egypt (guess which one I like better). In the course of our seminar we talked a little bit about Geertz and the shadow he casts (or not) over anthropology of the Middle East. Intrigued, I checked out Dale Eickelman’s brief essay “Clifford Geertz and Islam” in Clifford Geertz By His Colleagues and ended up reading the whole book. I was particularly struck by Geertz’s comment on Michael Fischer’s paper. Geertz writes (I’m editing heavily):
One of the advantages of living a long time is that you get to see, in the work of your younger colleagues something of what is to become of your work in the future. Now, when everything is coming up post, this can be a shaking experience. But it can also be, as with Micahel Fischer’s piece, a deeply reassuring one. I am warmed by the fact that one of the least tractable spirits in anthropology has found something to bounce off against in my work. Perhaps the the development that mosts interests me, and which I most regret not having done more with, is “science studies.” (p 114)
Fischer’s paper is, unfortunately, more or less unquotable due to the ’emerging form’ of his prose. But tucked away in the monstrous paragraph-sentence on page 83 between references to Bruno Latour and Rayna Rapp Fischer mentions “the anthropologies of Chris Kelty” as an example of “the rapidly burgeoning field of science studies” that Geertz so warmly endorsed.
As our blog’s assemblage continues to proliferate, I was surprised but happy to see that we had enrolled Geertz in our network. Now if we could just get The Napster to write a similar endorsement for Oneman…