Purity and Danger Now : New Perspectives book cover
1st Edition

Purity and Danger Now
New Perspectives

ISBN 9780367878382
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
298 Pages

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Book Description

Mary Douglas’s seminal work Purity and Danger (Routledge, 1966) continues to be indispensable reading for both students and scholars today. Marking the 50th anniversary of Douglas’s classic, the present volume sheds fresh light upon themes raised by Douglas by drawing on recent developments in the social sciences and humanities, as well as current empirical research. In presenting new perspectives on the topic of purity and impurity, the volume integrates work in anthropology and sociology with contemporary ideas from religious studies, cognitive science and the arts.

Containing contributions from both established and emerging scholars, including protégées of Douglas herself, Purity and Danger Now is an essential volume for those working on purity and impurity across the full spectrum of the social sciences and humanities.

Table of Contents

1. Purity as danger: ‘Purity and Danger revisited’ at fifty  2. Purity and Punning: Political Fundamentalism and Semantic Pollution  Chapter  3. Garbage at Work: Ethics, Subjectivation and Resistance  4. There’s Power in the Dirt: Impurity, Utopianism & Radical Politics  5. Disgust in the Moral Realm: Do All Roads Lead To Character?  6. Disgust, Disease, and Disorder: Impurity as a Mechanism for Psychopathology  7. Distinguishing Disgust From Fear  8. Clean-Moral Effects and Clean-Slate Effects: Physical Cleansing as an Embodied Procedure of Separation  9. Cleanliness Issues: From Individual Practices to Collective Visions  10. Purity and the West: Christianity, Secularism, and the Impurity of Ritual  11. Impurity without repression: Julia Kristeva and the biblical possibilities of a non-eliminationist construction of religious purity  12. Was Kristeva Right… about Qumran? Methodological Implications of a Theoretical Coincidence  13. Purity and Disgust in Shakespeare’s Problem Plays  14. Purity, Painting, and Peeing Out the Window

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Robbie Duschinsky is University Lecturer in Social Sciences in the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Simone Schnall is Reader in Experimental Social Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Daniel H. Weiss is Polonsky-Coexist Lecturer in Jewish Studies in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, UK.


“If Purity and Danger Now were simply a reappraisal of an anthropological classic, it would already be a welcome and timely contribution to the many disciplines her work has affected. To its credit, this collection does much more than that. Whereas Douglas highlighted the primacy of the social in structuring categories of purity and impurity, her influential point is here extended, complemented, and corrected by recent insights from social psychological analyses of disgust, new approaches to the agency of matter, and innovative scholarly trends in Judaic studies, literature, and painting.”
Christopher Forth, University of Kansas, USA

“Few edited collections work as a whole in the way Purity and Danger Now does; from the introduction through to the conclusion, every chapter is accessible, interesting and, most importantly, makes the reader think more about their own ideas. In addition to being a timely reconsideration and development of Mary Douglas’s important work, the book stands on its own as a major contribution to psychosocial and cultural theorisation. It is a book to buy, treasure and keep for any student and researcher across the social sciences, humanities and arts.”
Debbie Epstein, University of Roehampton, UK


Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo is available as a Routledge Classic text www.routledge.com/9780415289955