With the death of Clifford Geertz (1926–2006), both anthropology and Asian studies lost one of their most prominent, influential, and wide-ranging figures, as many obituaries and retrospective assessments of his life and work have noted (see, e.g., the unusually thoughtful and balanced one by Sherry Ortner, 2007). For more than forty years, Geertz's books and articles had a profound impact on his own discipline and on many neighboring ones, and though he dealt at length with other parts of the world, from Morocco (the subject of some of his fieldwork) to the United States (he sometimes turned his gaze to the rituals of his own culture), he often wrote about Southeast Asia, and Indonesia in particular. In terms of topics, he made major contributions to general debates on how to study history and culture, and to more specific discussions of issues such as the path that Islam took into and through individual nation-states.

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