Writing and interpretation*
Grahamstown, South Africa
The concept of the interpretation of cultures in anthropology is primarily
associated with the work of Clifford Geertz. His collection of essays of
the same name has become an indispensable reading for most of the anthropology
courses throughout the world (Geertz 1973). It has also become a starting
point for what is being referred to as “postmodern ethnography” (Pool 1991:
313; cf. also Marcus and Cushman 1982), for what
Geertz found himself among those accused of the “spectacularization”
of anthropology (Friedman 1987: 161). He is also one of the principal “bad
guys” in an account of “the experimental moment in North American anthropology”
by Darnell (1995). On the more personal level, it was Geertz’s Works and Lives
(1988) that opened up a whole new set of perspectives for me, both within
the field of anthropology and outside of it. I could say that it made me
choose anthropology as something I wanted to do. At least for the time being.
In this paper I intend to outline some of the directions that his work opens,
as well as some questions that might be looked at from different perspective, taking into account the “interpretive” or “literary” turn in contemporary anthropology.
I regard Geertz as the “primary mover” behind these relatively recent trends,
and his approach (especially regarding “reading culture[s]”, where, strictly
speaking, he follows upon the brilliant late 19th /early 20th century German
tradition of Verstehen, primarily by Wilhelm Dilthey and Max Weber
— although the concept itself is, of course, Paul Droysen’s) opens up numerous
possibilities for the anthropological work in the contemporary world. It
also opens possibilities for reexamination of the anthropological praxis
and the ways in which anthropologists have been interpreting the world.
According to Paul Ricœur, Geertz’s attitude “is linked to a conceptual framework
which is not causal or structural or even motivational but rather semiotic”
(Ricœur 1991: 183), which is also linked to the “conversational attitude,”
most intimately associated with the possibilities of interpretation. My primary
interest is in the exploration of possibilities for interpretations in different
contexts and different meanings that the “literary turn” opens. These are
the meanings that are in contemporary anthropology being explored from radically
different perspectives, as nicely summed up by Pierre Bourdieu:
The distance the anthropologist puts between himself and
his object (...) is also what enables him to stand outside the game, along
with everything he really shares with the logic of his object (...) Nothing
is more paradoxical (...) than the fact that people whose whole life is spent
fighting over words should strive at all costs to fix what seems to them
to be the one true meaning of objectively ambiguous, overdetermined or indeterminate
symbols, words, texts or events which often survive and generate interest
just because they have always been at stake in struggles aimed precisely
at fixing their ‘true’ meaning. (Bourdieu 1990: 17)
It is precisely the abandonment of this quest for the “true” meanings that
characterizes the “literary turn” in contemporary anthropology. One should
add here the recognition of differences, the abstraction (distancing) from
the notion that observers somehow stand above and outside the cultures that
they are observing (which would in turn enable them to have the clear, total,
and “true” picture of the observed reality), as well as the concept of relativism
that this shift in perspective implies. Like many other aspects of anthropological
theories since the 1980s, this is also not something that new, when one takes
into account the writings of some “classics,” such as Malinowski or Evans-Pritchard.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS, ISSUES, PROBLEMS…
Clifford Geertz’s research interests gradually shifted from the field studies
in Indonesia (Bali and Java — resulting in the book that was based on his
Ph.D. dissertation, The Religion of Java , as well as numerous
essays) and Morocco (Islam in different contexts [cf. Geertz 1989]), different
ways of interpreting culture and “the systematic study of meaningful forms”
(set of essays in The Interpretation of Cultures, 1973; also Local Knowledge,
1983), and, during the 1980s, to the ways of interacting between the researcher
and the community where he/she is doing research, as well the interpretation
of interpreter’s views and attitudes (“being there, writing here,” as outlined
in the book Works and Lives). His 1960s paper on “religion as a cultural
system” has been one of the most influential in this area of anthropology
(Geertz 1966; it was reprinted in 1973). In the last decade his work included
discussions of the relationship between anthropology and history (1990a),
as well as the “feminist anthropology” (1990b). While After the Fact
(1995) gives a sort of a summary view of his anthropological career, some
of his more recent papers (1997, 1998) deal with the issues of reconfiguration
of the world we live in (the rise of nationalism and the emergence of new
ethnic conflicts). Some of these papers have been reprinted in the collection
of essays published as the Available Light (2000). This book is, in
my opinion, the best collection of essays that he published so far, and it
includes a relatively inaccessible essay on culture from 1965. While notoriously
not engaging in polemics regarding his work (cf. Rorty 1986, but he did reply
to Gellner 1992), Geertz has been keen to participate in the meetings discussing
his work (for example, at the November 2002 AAA meeting at New Orleans),
and has remained an astute observer of the current debates and (“real” or
constructed) controversies in anthropology (Geertz 2001).
Geertz’s influence has been particularly important in the “interpretive”
aspect of his work (Geertz 1972, 1973, 1983, 1988), and his name is frequently
associated with the foundations of the “interpretative” or “critical” anthropology
(for Geertz and the “hermeneutic” tradition, see Gottowik 1997), although
Geertz himself does not seem to be in favor of any grand generalizations
considering his work. The criticism of his work covers the wide range, starting
from what I would call the “exorcist” approach — that is to say, the view
that Geertz is the main source of most of the problems and confusions of
contemporary anthropology, so if he is somehow eliminated, the problems will
automatically disappear — this type of criticism is exemplified by Shankman
1984 and Carrithers 1988. Geertz’s work was also criticized
for the alleged incompetence and too much hold of power (Hobart 1986, 1990
— he also criticizes Geertz for very bad ethnography), then it was criticized
through perspectives of different cultural and intellectual frames (Scholte
1986, Rosaldo 1990), and his views on religion were forcefully questioned
by authors like Asad (1983). More recently, Kuper (1999) devotes a whole
chapter to the criticism of Geertz’s ideas on culture and religion. I think that some of the serious misunderstandings that critics like Hobart have about this approach is that they believe that the proponents of the “literary” or “interpretative” approach are trying to impose it as the way of doing anthropology today.
This very concept of imposing is at sharp contrast with one of the main facets
of contemporary anthropological theories: namely, the idea that there is
a plurality of truths (and, consequently, a plurality of theoretically equally
valid approaches). The practical value of each and every approach will be
determined within the specific context where one is doing his or her research
— so the only measure of success will be to what extent different approaches
help in (or facilitate) one’s intended research. As pointed out by the “anarchistic”
methodological approach of Paul Feyerabend (for example, 1992 ),
this context-bound and context-based research strategy has been described
and used by some of the most influential physicists and “classical” scientists
from the late 19th and early 20th century (Bolzano, Mach, Einstein, Bohr),
but has still tended to be largely ignored. The great figures of the western
science were quite well aware of the relativity of concepts on which their
theories were based (as well as the incommensurability of their theories
with the alternative systems of knowledge, such as the ones outlined in and
referred to by myth or fiction, for example), and contemporary rationalist
crusaders have become painfully aware of these difficulties through the problems
opened by the quantum physics, physics of sub-atomic particles, as well as
the phenomena such as the Heisenberg’s principle of indeterminacy and various
examples from the quantum mechanics.
I will begin this brief discussion with one of his earlier (and most famous)
essays, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” (Geertz 1972),
and the ways in which it might help us to understand the problems of communicating
with and within a culture of “the others,” and continue with the brief (again)
overview of Geertz’s views of interpretation. My emphasis here is primarily
on the concept of interpreting (reading) the culture (a Balinese village)
as a “text.” This approach, I believe, could lead to the consideration of
contemporary anthropology as essentially an art (in the Latin sense of ars, or Greek techne)
of producing texts. Of course, ultimately, the value of this (just like any
other) approach can only be seen in specific and concrete contexts and observable
situations, by the “real” people. Hence, Geertz’s approach works in various
anthropological situations (as one possible interpretation), but remains
highly problematic when it comes to some current political and historical
trends (since it essentially replaces one form of universalization with another).
NOTES ON THE BALINESE COCKFIGHT
Geertz’s approach to communication is within the community studied, and it
is supposed to serve as one of the means for better understanding of the
communication processes. For example, when he and his former wife came to
a Balinese village in the 1950s, the villagers simply did not talk to them
— as a matter of fact, they did not talk to them at all, the pair of anthropologists
were something like non-persons. But, eventually, this wall of silence was
broken after they reacted to the unexpected event (the police raid) in the
way everyone else in the village did: by running. This correct response to
the challenge eventually influenced their partial integration within the
village community, and the subsequent events also showed that they had been
carefully observed by the villagers throughout their stay.
In his article on the Balinese cockfight, Geertz wrote:
An image, fiction, a model, a metaphor, the cockfight
is a means of expression; its function is neither to assuage social passions
nor to heighten them (though, in its play-with-fire way, it does a bit of
both), but, in a medium of feathers, blood, crowds, and money, to display
them. (1972: 23)
This also brings one closer to meanings of various expressive forms – meanings
that are certainly influenced (another question is to what extent) by a specific
culture. And the only way to understand these meanings is to observe them
in a particular context, so
Any expressive form works (when it works) by disarranging
semantic contexts in such a way that properties conventionally ascribed to
certain things are unconventionally ascribed to others, which are then seen
actually to possess them. To call the wind a cripple, as Stevens does, to
fix tone and manipulate timbre, as Schoenberg does, or closer to our case,
to picture an art critic as a dissolute bear, as Hogarth does, is to cross
conceptual wires; the established conjunctions between objects and their
qualities are altered and phenomena — fall weather, melodic shape, or cultural
journalism — are clothed in signifiers which normally point to other referents.
Similarly, to connect — and connect, and connect — the collision of roosters
with the decisiveness of status is to invite a transfer of perceptions from
the former to the latter, a transfer which is at once a description and a
judgment. (Logically, the transfer could, of course, as well go the other
way; but, like most of the rest of us, the Balinese are a great deal more
interested in understanding men than they are in understanding cocks.) (ibid.,
In the passage that has become famous with the advent of the “literary” approach,
Geertz argues that cultures can actually be read as texts:
The culture of a people is an ensemble of texts, themselves
ensembles, which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of
those to whom they properly belong. There are enormous difficulties in such
an enterprise, methodological pitfalls to make a Freudian quake, and some
moral perplexities as well. Nor is it the only way that symbolic forms can
be sociologically handled. Functionalism lives, and so does psychologism.
But to regard such forms as “saying something of something,” and saying it
to somebody, is at least to open the possibility of an analysis which attends
to their substance rather than to reductive formulas professing to account
for them.... But whatever the level at which one operates, and however intricately,
the guiding principle is the same: societies, like lives, contain their own
interpretations. One has only to learn how to gain access to them. (ibid.,
Every form of communication is engaged in constant metaphorical refocusing
of specific cultures. The facts that participants and actors of any given
cultures communicate to their members and participants are not always (or,
more probably, in most cases) intelligible to observers that stand outside
the specific culture. The question of the possibility of communication between
the specific cultural forms and the observer then arises. To a certain extent,
understanding of the specific form requires analysis very much like an analysis
of the text (and Geertz is very well aware that “such an extension
of the notion of a text beyond written material, and even beyond verbal,
is, though metaphorical, not, of course, all that novel” [ibid., 26]), and
any attempt to interpret it apart from the culture (as, for example, the
structuralist-influenced interpreters do), and aside from the actual social
and cultural context, cannot lead very far. To use another metaphor, the
aim of anthropologist’s analysis should be to go beneath the surface (or, at least, to try to) — and that is exactly what (and where) most attempts fail.
For the time being at least, we seem to be left with writing. About cultures,
peoples, concepts, and, among other things, about writing itself.
INTERPRETING THE OTHER: WRITING ABOUT WRITING
In the introductory essay for The Interpretation of Cultures (“Thick
Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture”), Geertz states that
“the whole point of the semiotic approach to culture is... to aid us in gaining
access to the conceptual world in which our subjects live so that we can,
in some extended sense of the term, converse with them” (1973: 24). Geertz
is himself firmly positioned within what is commonly regarded as “the literary
turn in contemporary anthropology” (Marcus and Clifford 1985, Marcus and
Cushman 1982, Clifford and Marcus 1986, Scholte 1986 and 1987, Kapferer 1988,
Fabian 1990 and 1991).
When discussing what can be referred to as “writing about writing” (“Anthropology
and the Scene of Writing” in Geertz 1988), Geertz notes that, first of all,
there are very few anthropologists that have a distinctive literary style
(Edward Sapir, Ruth Benedict, Bronislaw Malinowski, Claude Lévi-Strauss). So why should anyone bother to analyze their writings?
The answer to this question brings us (again) to the problems of meaning
and interpretation. How is a writer going to convince us (the readers) that
what he/she writes is actually true?
The crucial peculiarities of ethnographic writing are,
like the purloined letter, so fully in view as to escape notice: the fact,
for example, that so much of it consists of incorrigible assertion. The highly
situated nature of ethnographic description — this ethnographer, in this
time, in this place, with these informants, these commitments, and these
experiences, a representative of particular culture, a member of a certain
class — gives to the bulk of what is said a rather take-it-or-leave-it quality.
“Vas you dere, Sharlie?” as Jack Pearl’s Baron Münchausen used to say.
The anthropologist is “there” and he/she brings her/his experiences to us
“here.” How can we be convinced that the described experience is “real”?
Do we need to be convinced at all? And what difference does it make? Or,
perhaps it makes more sense to ask: can we be convinced at all and at what
Obviously, things change and people with them. The Azande today are certainly
much different than when Evans-Pritchard wrote about them; our image of the
K’iche Maya changed dramatically since the first groundbreaking writings
by Carmack; “la vie quotidienne” of the cultures all around the globe
is being constantly re-written (curiously enough, one can hardly find people
from these exotic cultures writing on their own legacy — it is always somebody
else, someone from the scientific, real, true world to accomplish this task)
and re-explained in various forms and mediums, from the ethnographies and
geographical or historical descriptions, to the travel guides.
There are certainly great risks in looking upon anthropological writings
as the literary ones (one could be lead to concentrate on the actual meaning
of specific words, and, consequently, to leave this world for another one,
in which discussing is all that matters), and there are other great risks
such as that of the aestheticism. Reading an anthropological book sometimes
might be as exciting as reading a good novel or a short story.
And this brings with itself many risks, including the accusations that the
anthropologist does not really know what he/she is actually doing, that she/he
is imposing herself/himself on another genre or mode of expression or (worst
of all) another culture or set of values, etc. Or even that she/he brings
passion and pleasure in a science (or field) that is supposed to be emotion-free,
cold and disinterested. To go back to Geertz:
But the risks are worth running, and not only because
some central issues do in fact revolve about what language games we choose
to play, or because neither product enhancement nor tendentious argument
is exactly unknown in the increasingly desperate scramble to be noticed,
or because writing to please has something to be said for it, at least as
against writing to intimidate. The risks are worth running because running
them leads to a thoroughgoing revision of our understanding of what is it
to open (a bit) the consciousness of one group of people to (something of)
the life-form of another, and in that way to (something of) their own. (Geertz
Although I am well aware of the risks involved in the “letting the facts
speak for themselves” approach, even when the “facts” are very obvious, I
would like to conclude this section with one more quotation; part of the Michel Leiris’ L´Afrique fantôme
(originally published in Paris, in 1934), which summarizes in a most elegant
way the differences between “othernesses,” interpretations, languages, and
cultures. In quoting this passage, Geertz uses Leiris in order to offer an
elegant answer to the criticism of the “writerly” approach, as well as to
the objections concerning the “Boasian” irresistible quest for meaning:
Right away this afternoon I go with Abba Jérome
to see [the Ethiopian woman] Emawayish and give her pens, ink, and a notebook
so she can record for herself — or dictate to her son — the manuscript [of
her songs], letting it to be understood that the head of the expedition,
if he is pleased, will present her with the desired gift.
Emawayish’s words this afternoon when I told her, speaking of her
manuscript, that it would be especially good for her to write down some love
songs like those of the other night: Does poetry exist in France? And then: Does love exist in France? (1988: 129)
WRITING ABOUT CULTURES
What is the source of an alleged authority of an anthropologist to write about other cultures? Being there
is just not enough, since any construction of other people’s concepts or
images presents a kind of an authoritative account of them. Any such interpretive
construction (a text, a description) presents a certain “unified” image of
a culture observed to the “outer” world. (As such, even a text championing
a “local” perspective might be regarded as “globalizing” and “universalizing.”)
In an interesting rejoinder to Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” concept
(1996a, 1996b), Geertz (1998) sees the world as it will emerge in the next
century as a set of fragments, not necessarily corresponding to state, cultural,
ethnic or linguistic frontiers, but more like various interest groups organized
around their own particular agendas. In this fragmented world, as he sees
it, individuals will owe their particular allegiances not to their respective
ethnic or cultural groups (“nations”), but to their own specific (professional?
corporate?) “community.” The wars of the future, hence,
should be the wars about particular interests of particular groups (or even
corporations?) – not wars or conflicts between ethnic groups or “civilizations.”
Of course, the question then arises of the “objective” place of anthropology
and anthropologists in the future world. It seems that Geertz takes for granted
that anthropologists do have a kind of a privileged position from which they
are capable of observing processes of culture change, although allowing for
a possibility that the discipline itself might in the future be transformed
into “cultural studies” (Handler 1991: 612). This privileged position is
derived from their capability to observe “other things in other places,”
to immerse themselves into other worlds and interpret them. But, then, any
interpretation is just one possible among many, and it is far from clear
how this authority is established and what is it based upon. Geertz expressed
a great degree of optimism when it comes to realizing the limits of “local
What we need (to give a dictum) are not contemporary reenactments of old debates, nomotetic and ideographic, erklären and verstehen,
but demonstrations, on the one side or the other, of either an effective
technology for controlling the overall directions of modern social life or
the development and inculcation of more delicate skills for navigating our
way through it, whatever direction it takes. And when it comes to that, I
am reasonably confident both as to which is the more desirable and the more
likely actually to occur. (1992: 134)
The view that “local knowledge” should take precedence over universalizations
and generalizations seems to be at odds with the view that experts (not necessarily
local) could be in a position to interpret the constant shifts and fragmentations
of the world as we know it. The issue of interpretation is also closely related
to the one of understanding: do people who interpret something necessarily
know what they are talking about? Does interpreting imply understanding?
In many cases, the observed ones simply act in a way that is expected from
them by an outside authority (the observers — anthropologists, ethnographers,
etc.). For anyone who looked at the events in the former Yugoslavia since
1991 (where people seem to have behaved in ways that were expected of them
– there simply never existed age-old interethnic hatreds that many of the
Western observers were so keen to finding; cf. Geertz 1993), the answer to
these and similar questions should be more than clear.
“Inscribing” a meaning (that is later going to be deduced as a result of
the interpretive analysis) on a set of events that are being observed might
be of some benefit to an anthropologist/observer (making some sense for him/her
out of an otherwise completely unintelligible situation), but could have
nothing to do with any form of “understanding” or “explanation” of the things
(events, processes, etc.) being observed. The essential plurality of truths
(or possible explanations) is one thing, but the actual events are sometimes
quite another. Possibility should not be confused with probability.
Geertz once wrote (and it has been picked up by Fabian and others) that anthropologists essentially write
— but it could also be argued that first and foremost they observe. What
is and what could be written only later comes into play. And when it does
come, the unresolved question remains the one of the power and position from
which one writes or interprets. This has been one of the strongest lines
of criticism of his work by Marcus (1998). It is also the issue that I find
most important to be resolved — for in his late writings (especially Geertz
1998), Geertz seems to be too close to justifying a specific worldview, sometimes
associated with the so-called “neo-liberalism.” This opens a potentially
uncomfortable question: are his interpretations really ones among the many
(with no claim to “true meanings”), or are they an uncomfortable reminder
that there is after all the interpretation that comes before all the others.
However, this is a more complex issue, and I would like to leave the verdict
(and any interpretations of it) to other peoples in other places, trying
to make sense of the work of undoubtedly one of the most influential anthropologists
of the 20th century.
* Acknowledgements This paper has been many years in making, and in
the process, I benefited greatly from the years I spent at the University
of St. Andrews (October 1993 to September 1996), especially by intellectually
stimulating encounters with my former supervisor and present friend, Professor
Nigel Rapport. Professor Joanna Overing is responsible for my “discovery”
of Feyerabend, and the late Dr. Sándor G. J. Hervey re-iterated my interest
in Saussure (with wider implications for the problem of interpretation).
Last but not least, Professor Geertz has over the years been kind to provide
me with several copies of his papers (and one book), and not to discourage
me in trying to sift through numerous interpretations. This, of course, does
not imply that any one of them would agree with anything written here.
An earlier (and much shorter) version of this paper was previously published in Slovenian (Boskovic 1996).
1. While it can be argued that the concept of “postmodern ethnography” actually
predates Geertz, it is only after his works were published and largely based
on the impact that these works had on the world of the social sciences (and
anthropology in particular) that this concept has received the attention
and the recognition that it deserves. Of course, Geertz himself is not a
“postmodern” anthropologist — despite the prominent place that concepts like
relativism have in his work (for a marvelous misinterpretation of the concept,
see Gellner 1992).
2. Different in the sense that it takes as the starting point the concept of the “culture as text,” with all its implications.
3. By the “literary turn” I mean a text-centered and text-oriented approach,
according to which cultures could be “read” or interpreted as texts or collections
of texts. It has become especially prominent following the publication of
the Writing Culture (Clifford and Marcus 1986; cf. also Marcus and
Fisher 1986), and even though it is not as influential today as it used to
be a decade ago, still many anthropologists feel obliged to state their position
with regard to it. It was also seen by some authors (Gellner, Fabian, Kapferer,
Pohl, Scholte) as the origin of the so-called “postmodern” approach in anthropology
4. The concept of relativism that I am referring to was made possible by
the concept of the arbitrariness of linguistic sign, as postulated by Ferdinand
5. When reviewing the Works and Lives, Carrithers postulates that
the book is about the works of anthropologists and the lives of the peoples
studied, which is a rather strange conclusion and almost total misunderstanding
of the book. Of course, Geertz does not live up to the reviewer's expectations.
6. I also believe that, while Kuper makes some very good points (like on
the Indonesian politics, 1999: 94-96), he comes from a neo-structuralist
perspective that is incapable of grasping different aspects of Geertz’s work.
7. Actually, there are several different approaches, and the authors frequently
lumped together are frequently in sharp disagreement with each other. However,
most of the criticism is taking the “literary” or “text-centered” or “postmodern”
approach to be a single identifiable and unified category, in total disregard
of what the authors involved actually say or write.
8. “To those who look at the rich material provided by history, and
who are not intent on impoverishing it in order to please their lower instincts,
their craving for intellectual security in the form of clarity, precision,
'objectivity', 'truth', it will become clear that there is only one principle
that can be defended under all circumstances and in all stages of human development.
It is the principle: anything goes.” (Feyerabend 1992: 19). The pun is intentional, the variety of meanings also, so Feyerabend wrote in the same book: “
'anything goes' is not a 'principle' I hold — I do not think that 'principles'
can be used and fruitfully discussed outside the concrete research situation
they are supposed to affect - but the terrified exclamation of a rationalist
who takes a closer look at history” (1992: vii).
9. It is interesting to note that this article has received a great deal
of attention at the 1984 meeting at the School of American Research in Santa
Fe (papers were published in the volume Writing Culture [Clifford and Marcus
1986]), where it was analyzed by two out of ten participants, Clifford and
Crapanzano (Marcus and Clifford 1985: 269).
10. "To look at the symbolic dimensions of social action – art, religion,
ideology, science, law, morality, common sense — is not to turn away from
the existential dilemmas of life for some empyrean realm of de-emotionalized
forms; it is to plunge in the midst of them. The essential vocation of interpretative
anthropology is not to answer our deepest questions, but to make available
to us answers that others, guarding other sheep in other valleys, have given,
and thus to include them in the consultable record of what man has said."
(Geertz 1973: 30)
11. And one would have to add Geertz himself to this list.
12. “Real” in the sense that she/he was actually “there” (with the more or
less specific objective[s] in mind) and is trying to communicate the experience
of being “there” to “us” (readers, audience, students, scholars, etc.). “Real”
in the sense that when reading an ethnography we instinctively want (need,
even ask) to be convinced that the experience of being “there” did actually
13. Throughout Latin America and Africa, more and more anthropologists are
being employed by tourist agencies as guides or organizers of trips. It is
interesting to note that the anthropologists themselves are transformed in
an intriguing set of “others” by the fact that the tourists cannot easily
relate to the native(s), but they can to the anthropologists who are engaged
in this strange game.
14. And perhaps even more — depending on who is doing the reading. Geertz’s writings are particularly seductive.
15. Or, strictly speaking, a quotation within quotation.
16. Actually, Geertz has been moving in this direction several years earlier, for example: “In
any case, nation-states are not the only sorts of “standing entities” standing.
From the Security Council, the European Community, ASEAN, and the OAS to
OPEC, NATO, the IMF, and the Muslim Brotherhood, collective actors of another
sort, claiming and exercising authority over places and peoples, are entering
not simply the politico-economic relations among countries, but within them”
17. Cf. also the line of criticism used by Aletta Biersack (1989).
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