Call for papers: Beyond purity and pollution? Hygiene, cleanliness, and urban futures
Organizers: Anna Boermel (King’s College London), Jamie Furniss (University of Edinburgh) firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline is APRIL 15!
This panel asks what role notions of hygiene, cleanliness and order have today in figurations and representations of urban futures, and the real and painful struggles of cities and their residents. Its theoretical ambition is to contribute to developing new approaches for making sense of hygiene and cleaning practices that go beyond Douglas’s classic attempt at understanding ‘purity and pollution’ from a structural and symbolic standpoint. We seek propositions for contextual, circumscribed ethnographic investigations into practices for establishing cleanliness/hygiene, and their articulation with post-colonial, post-revolutionary, or ‘developmental’ futures.
Hygiene and cleanliness are a heuristic through which scholars from a variety of disciplines engage big questions. Diachronic research has revealed many variations in human beings’ relations to their residues, excreta, and remains (Barles 2005; Strasser 2000; Zimring 2005). It has also contributed, particularly through post-colonial critiques, to relativizing notions of hygiene and the boundary between ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ (Anderson 1995; Chakrabarty 2002; Kaviraj 1997; Oldenburg 1984; Prashad 2001; Vigarello 1985). Much of this work has emphasized the way in which hygiene bears the cultural imprint of its producers and is an important “dispositif” for the application of power. It has made clear the important role hygiene has played in struggles over the city and its meanings. ‘Purification impulses’ (Sennett 1970) are an important key to understanding enclosure and exclusion, rigorous maintenance of the division between inside and outside, obsession with impenetrable boundaries and separation, as well as corporeal individuation and integrity. These themes have been central to certain conceptualizations of Western ‘modernity’ (e.g. Bauman 2000). They are said to be the basis of the material culture of containment that embodies Western concepts of health, morality, and property (Warnier 2006: 188). They underlie the pervasive socio-spatial mechanisms for immobilizing humans in camps, behind security walls, or in ‘gated’ urban structures, all of which idealize the sterile as an image of order and enact the politics of difference and separateness that define contemporary Europe’s relationship to the ‘other’ (e.g. Diken 2004). On the level of personal identity, the principles of bodily individuation, integrity, closure and distanciation are central to the shaping of a ‘modern’ individual subjectivity (Ferguson 2000). They are the theoretical underpinnings of the emergent sub-discipline of ‘border studies’ (e.g. Wastl-Walter 2011).
Despite some more recent work by anthropologists (Jeanjean 2006, 2009) that has attempted—by examining material objects, practices, and change—to go beyond structural and symbolic approaches to cleanliness and hygiene, there is arguably a failure, at least in Anglo-American anthropology, to move beyond Mary Douglas’s classic approach to this topic. This panel’s theoretical ambition is to contribute to developing new approaches for making sense of hygiene and cleaning practices. In particular, it poses the question of cleanliness and hygiene in the construction of emerging futures. We seek examples of figurations and representations of emerging futures, and in particular their articulation with images of or practices for establishing cleanliness/hygiene. These futures might be post-colonial, post-revolutionary (Winegar 2011), developmental (Beall 2006), biopolitical (Collier & Lakoff 2008; Lakoff 2008; Rabinow & Rose 2007), etc.
Anderson, W. (1995). “Excremental Colonialism: Publich Health and the Poetics of Pollution.” Critical Inquiry 21(3): 640-69.
Barles, S. (2005). L’Invention des déchets urbains. France : 1790-1970. Seyssel, Éditions du Champ Vallon.
Bauman, Z. (2000). Liquid modernity. Cambridge, Polity Press.
Beall, J. (2006). “Dealing with dirt and the disorder of development: Managing rubbish in urban Pakistan.” Oxford Development Studies 34(1): 81-97.
Chakrabarty, D. (2002). Habitations of modernity : essays in the wake of subaltern studies. Chicago ; London, University of Chicago Press: xxiv, 173.
Collier, S. J. and A. Lakoff (2008). Biosecurity Interventions: Global Health and Security in Question. New York, Columbia University Press.
Diken, B. (2004). “From Refugees Camps to Gated Communities: Biopolitics and the End of the City.” Citizenship Studies 8(1): 83-106.
Douglas, M. (2003 ). Purity and danger : an analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. London, Routledge.
Ferguson, H. (2000). Modernity and subjectivity: body, soul, spirit, University of Virginia Press.
Jeanjean, A. (2006). Basses Œuvres. Une ethnologie du travail dans les égouts. Paris, éditions du CTHS.
Jeanjean, A. (2009). L’excrémentiel, un objet pour l’ethnologie. In G. Ravis-Giordani (ed.) L’ethnologie : nouveaux contextes, nouveaux objets. Paris, éditions du CTHS: 209-25.
Kaviraj, S. (1997). “Filth and Public Sphere: Concepts and Practices about Space in Calcutta.” Public Culture 10(1): 83-113.
Lakoff, A. (2008). “The generic biothreat, or, how we became unprepared.” Current Anthropology 23(3): 399-428.
Oldenburg, V. T. (1984). “The City Must be Clean” In The making of colonial Lucknow, 1856-1877. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
Prashad, V. (2001). “The Technology of Sanitation in Colonial Delhi.” Modern Asian Studies 35(1): 113-55.
Rabinow, P. and N. Rose (2006). “Biopower Today.” BioSocieties 1: 195-217.
Sennett, R. (1970). The uses of disorder: personal identity & city life. New York, Knopf.
Strasser, S. (2000). Waste and Want. A Social History of Trash. New York, Henry Holt and Company.
Vigarello, G. (1985). Le propre et le sale. L’hygiène du corps depuis le Moyen Âge. Paris, Éditions du Seuil.
Warnier, J.-P. (2006). Inside and Outside: Surfaces and Containers. In C. Tilley, W. Keane, S. Kuckleret al (ed.) Handbook of Material Culture. London, Sage: 186-95.
Wastl-Walter, D., Ed. (2011). The Ashgate Research Comapnion to Border Studies. Farnham, Ashgate.
Winegar, J. (2011). “Taking Out the TrashYouth Clean Up Egypt After Mubarak.” Middle East Report 259(Summer 2011): 32-5.
Zimring, C. (2005). Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America. London, Rutgers University Press.