UCL Bookshelf: 'Dirt: New geographies of cleanliness and contamination'
21 December 2007
Describe something as dirty and you infer far more than a scientific measure of how many harmful germs may be present. Though appearing to be natural, 'dirtiness' is defined differently in particular cultural and historical contexts, layered with distinct but overlapping social, moral and scientific connotations.
In a new multidisciplinary anthology, 'Dirt: New geographies of cleanliness and contamination', Ben Campkin (UCL Bartlett School of Architecture) and Rosie Cox (Birkbeck College) bring together essays exploring how beliefs about dirt and cleanliness have affected the design, perception and experience of domestic, urban and rural space, in different historical and geographical contexts.
Many of the essays respond to the seminal work of Dame Mary Douglas (1921-2007; UCL Anthropology) whose 1966 book 'Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo' argued that dirt is part of a system of classification used by all societies to establish and maintain order.
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