Deep play geertz essay

Other than the phenomenon of Hell Houses, the West is bereft whatsoever of significant high stake ventures.

Notes and Queries in Anthropology

With this in mind, I believe that one should take the time to look at the rich culture of the East, and only then feel entitled to engage in a discussion about the merits of the cultural heritage of the civilized versus the one of the primitive, of the savage. Leave a comment. Filed under Uncategorized. Tagged as bali , clifford geertz , cockfight , deep play , performance. You are commenting using your WordPress.

Deep play/ balinese cockfight Clifford Geertz 1993 Paper

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Clifford Geertz - Balinese cockfight essays

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Geertz views cultural anthropology through the lens of art. He studies cultures as if they were living texts, composed of the ideas and behaviors of their native peoples. As a pioneer in the field, Geertz established a hands-on approach to field study which involves personal interaction with locals as a means of accurately studying their culture.


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  • A personal reflection of Clifford Geertz’s ‘Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight’.
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In this quotation Geertz explains that the cockfights in Bali are more than mere passtime. Their significance penetrates into the unconscious of the culture, as demonstrated through the native language.

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Words which are male-coded often also pertain to the roosters themselves, thus establishing the connection of identification between the fowl fighters in the ring and their commanding owners. Although the cockfights were illegal in Indonesia at the time, they were quite common. Geertz was able to immerse himself in the local culture and to bond with the Balinese because he readily participated in observing these illegal fights, despite personal risk of incarceration.

Because of his positioning himself as an insider the locals naturally trusted him and explained much about their customs to him. Above all the traditions, however, Geertz found the cockfights the most fascinating.

A personal reflection of Clifford Geertz’s ‘Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight’

In his book Geertz uses the fights to analyze the culture, representing their various values and fears through their recreation and competition. Two classes of cockfight exist in Bali. Deep fights run for high bets and usually occur between upper class individuals. They are dramatic affairs which involve elaborate processes of subterfuge.