I'm reminding myself what it is about cultrual studies that is so useful.
And I just remembered how much I love Clifford Geertz!
Oh! Darling Geertz. What a man...
From a D. Austin-Broos essay;
The anthropology of Clifford Geertz underwent a transformation through his experiences of studying Balinese life. In his essay, Religion As A Cultural System, Geertz defines culture as “historically transmitted patterns of meaning embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes towards life” (Geertz, 1973; 89). This definition belies Geertz’s optimism regarding the capacity of people to negotiate change within their own means and with their own agency. Symbols in such a definition are tools to be utilised by the individuals of the culture to “communicate, perpetuate and develop” them selves and their identity in a changing world. These negotiations of personhood and expression were not open, conscious ideas that could be explained by someone, but instead were subtle, unconscious patterns of culture, which could be read, like a text, in the relations among people (Geertz, 1973). Anthropologists need to ‘read’ not only what was written, but also what is written between the lines by tradition and history.
The culture of people is an ensemble of texts, themselves ensembles, which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of those to whom they properly belong (Geertz, 1973; 452).