2014 Geertz Prize open for nominations

The Society for the Anthropology of Religion would like to announce our annual juried competition for the Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion. The Geertz Prize seeks to encourage excellence in the anthropology of religion by recognizing an outstanding recent book in the field. The prize is named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, in recognition of his many distinguished   contributions to the anthropological study of religion. In awarding the Prize, the Society hopes to foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.

Any single-authored or co-authored book focusing on the anthropology of religion, broadly defined, is eligible for the Prize. Edited volumes, textbooks, and reference works are not eligible, nor are works in which religion is a secondary subject. The book’s author need not be an anthropologist by profession, but the work should draw on and respond to research and theory within the anthropology of religion. Books must have a publication date of 2012 or later. Books that have already been reviewed for the Prize will not be reconsidered.

The prize will be awarded at SAR’s business meeting at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting in November, 2014.

To receive additional information on how to submit a book for consideration, please send a flyer about the book to Jonathan Hill, Chair of the Geertz Prize Committee (email: jhill “at” siu “dot” edu).

A pdf of the call for nominations is available for download here.

2013 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion

2013 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion and Honorable Mention

The SAR is pleased to announce the winner of the seventh annual Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion: Michael Lempert’s Discipline and Debate: The Language of Violence in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery (University of California Press, 2012). Honorable mention is awarded to Sherine Hamdy for Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt (University of California Press, 2012).

Following a rigorous competition of nearly 30 monographs, the SAR Prize Jury (Jordan Haug, Janet Hoskins, Paul Johnson, Tulasi Srinivas and ourselves) as well as prize coordinator, Lauren Leve, are pleased to award the Clifford Geertz prize that celebrates innovative recent books that integrate theory with ethnography and that connect the anthropology of religion to the larger world.

The Honorable Mention goes to Sherine Hamdy for her beautifully rendered ethnography Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt. Sherine Hamdy is a medical anthropologist interested in notions of the body, health, and death among Muslims in Egypt. Drawing on fieldwork in Cairo and the Nile Delta, her book weaves ethnography among the sick in Egypt with insights regarding Islamic theological debates about organ donation. This highly readable and empathetic monograph shows how religious ethics are continuously made and remade in relation to socio-economic, political, and individual circumstances. The jury agreed that it was eye-opening, utterly engrossing, and hard to put down.

Our grand prize goes to Michael Lempert for Discipline and Debate: The Language of Violence in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. Lempert conducted fieldwork for several years in the late 1990s in Sera Mey, India at a large Tibetan monastery of 4,500 monks. His moving, compelling and highly original book vividly captures tensions in the disciplinary methods adopted in this Tibetan diasporic monastery and effectively deconstructs the Dalai Lama’s representation of Buddhism as inherently non-violent.

Lempert’s book offers vibrant insight into religious education and everyday life in Buddhist monasteries but also speaks to broader topics such as violence and non-violence, ritual, self-cultivation, and liberalism. He shows how reason is central to the tradition’s discursive diasporic pedagogy. The author employs meticulous ethnographic and linguistic-based methodologies to illustrate how in practice Tibetan Buddhist monks are shaping the tradition in ways that differ from its primary texts and from the promotional treatises of its leader to foreign audiences. How are theological abstractions materialized through embodied and interactive practices (2012: 10)? How are these rituals received? Are they effective in eliciting the sympathies of their audiences? Drawing on hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings of monastic assemblies, debate practices, and interviews, Lempert offers rich responses to these inquiries. He examines these semiotic interactions largely by referring to linguistic anthropology, without, as one jury member noted, “getting too technical.” While taking on these language-based issues, the book also comes to significant conclusions about the dynamism of Buddhism and the pragmatics of appropriation and emulation of beliefs outside of Tibet.

In sum, Discipline and Debate is well written and clear about its contribution to other literatures without being overburdened by them. Members of the jury agreed that this book is Geertzian in ambition and tone and tells a really good story.

Congratulations both to 2013 Clifford Geertz Prize winner Michael Lempert and to Sherine Hamdy.

By Amira Mittermaier and Jennifer Selby (SAR Book Prize Jury Members)

Cosmologies of Credit Receives 2012 Geertz Prize

2012 First Prize

SAR has awarded the 2012 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion to Cosmologies of Credit: Transnational Mobility and the Politics of Destination in China by Julie Chu (Duke University Press, 2010). In her monograph Chu, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, crafts a masterful depiction of the cosmology of aspiration in Fuzhou, China. She focuses on Fuzhounese efforts to recast their social horizons beyond the limitations of “peasant life” in China. Transcending utilitarian questions of risks and rewards, she considers the overflow of aspirations in the Fuzhounese pursuit of transnational destinations. Chu attends not just to the migration of bodies, but also to flows of shipping containers, planes, luggage, immigration papers, money, food, prayers, and gods. By analyzing the intersections and disjunctures of these various flows, she explains how mobility operates as a sign embodied through everyday encounters and in the transactions of persons and things. The prize was awarded at the general business meeting of SAR during the annual meeting of AAA.

Lauren Leve, Chair of the 2012 Geertz Prize Committee, presents the Geertz Prize in Anthropology of Religion to Julie Chu.
Lauren Leve, Chair of the 2012 Geertz Prize Committee, presents the Geertz Prize in Anthropology of Religion to Julie Chu.

2012 Honorable Mention

In addition to the First Prize, the 2012 Geertz Prize Committee awarded an Honorable Mention to Stambeli: Music, Trance and Alterity in Tunisia, by Richard C. Jankowski (University of Chicago Press, 2010). In his monograph, Jankowsky, an Associate Professor of Music in Ethnomusicology at Tufts University, presents a vivid ethnographic account of the healing trance music created by the descendants of sub-Saharan slaves brought to Tunisia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Stambeli music calls upon an elaborate pantheon of sub-Saharan spirits and North African Muslim saints to heal humans through ritualized trance. The book explores the way the music evokes the cross-cultural, migratory past of its originators and their encounters with the Arab-Islamic world in which they found themselves. Stambeli, Jankowsky avers, is thoroughly marked by a sense of otherness—the healing spirits, the founding musicians, and the instruments mostly come from outside Tunisia—which creates a unique space for profoundly meaningful interactions between sub-Saharan and North African people, beliefs, histories, and aesthetics.

 

Evey year, SAR selects an excellent book in the anthropology of religion to honor Clifford Geertz, one of one of the field’s best-known representatives. For past recipients of the Geertz Prize and other Honorable Mentions, details on nominations for future prizes, and other information relating to the Geertz Prize please visit the dedicated Geertz Prize page.

2013 Geertz Prize open for nominations

The Society for the Anthropology of Religion would like to announce our annual juried competition for the Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion. Any single-authored or co-authored book focusing on the anthropology of religion, broadly defined, is eligible for the Prize. The Geertz Prize seeks to encourage excellence in the anthropology of religion by recognizing an outstanding recent book in the field. This year’s Prize coordinator is Lauren Leve. To submit a book for consideration, please send six (6) copies to the Prize committee by March 31, 2013. For full details, see the Geertz Prize page.

The prize is named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, in recognition of his many distinguished contributions to the anthropological study of religion. In awarding the Prize, the Society hopes to foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.

2012 Geertz Prize open for nominations

The Society for the Anthropology of Religion would like to announce our annual juried competition for the Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion. Any single-authored or co-authored book focusing on the anthropology of religion, broadly defined, is eligible for the Prize. The Geertz Prize seeks to encourage excellence in the anthropology of religion by recognizing an outstanding recent book in the field. This year’s Prize coordinator is Lauren Leve. To submit a book for consideration, please send six (6) copies to the Prize committee by March 31, 2012. For full details, see the Geertz Prize page.

The prize is named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, in recognition of his many distinguished contributions to the anthropological study of religion. In awarding the Prize, the Society hopes to foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.

Dreams That Matter Receives 2011 Geertz Prize

SAR has awarded the 2011 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion to Dreams That Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination by Amira Mittermaier (University of California Press, 2011). The book explores practices surrounding dreams and dream-interpretation in several different religious communities in Egypt. Building on a dialogue with Islamic and Western thought, she argues for the ethical, political and religious implications of dreaming. The prize was awarded at the general business meeting of SAR during the annual meeting of AAA. Evey year, SAR selects an excellent book in the anthropology of religion to honor Clifford Geertz, one of one of the field’s best-known representatives.

Call for Nominations for the 2011 Geertz Prize

The Society for the Anthropology of Religion, a section of the American Anthropological Association, announces the 2011 juried competition for the

CLIFFORD GEERTZ PRIZE IN THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF RELIGION

The Geertz Prize seeks to encourage excellence in the anthropology of religion by recognizing an outstanding recent book in the field. The prize is named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, in recognition of his many distinguished contributions to the anthropological study of religion. In awarding the Prize, the Society hopes to foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.

Eligibility

Any single-authored or co-authored book focusing on the anthropology of religion, broadly defined, is eligible for the Prize. Edited volumes, textbooks, and reference works are not eligible, nor are works in which religion is a secondary subject. The bookÕs author need not be an anthropologist by profession, but the work should draw on and respond to research and theory within the anthropology of religion. Books must have a publication date of 2009 or later.

The prize will be awarded at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in November, 2011.

Submission Guidelines

To submit a book for consideration, please send six (6) copies to the following address by March 31, 2011:

Aisha Khan
Chair, Geertz Prize Committee
Department of Anthropology
New York University
25 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10003