- Rice, sugar, and livestock in Java, 1820-1940: Geertz’s Agricultural Involution 50 years on
- Book title
- Rice: global networks and new histories
- Pages (from-to)
- Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Do we love him or do we loath him? Do we love Clifford Geertz (1926-2006) because he put Java (and Bali) on the scholarly map with his well-written books that appealed to a large audience? Or do we hate him because his Agricultural Involution (1963) was such a travesty of Java’s economic and social history of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? Geertz has been praised and imitated by many scholars who worked on areas other than Java but vilified by most Java scholars. Personally, we, the authors, are inclined to applaud him for drawing our attention to Java as a nice case study of the possible linkages between population growth and the high rates of labor absorption in wet-rice cultivation. Although there is much to be criticized in his famous book, there is also much to be admired and to be learned. It is regrettable that as a cultural anthropologist he was ill-equipped for the nitty-gritties of archival research that should have been carried out but were not.
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