Dirt, Undress, and Difference

Dirt, Undress, and Difference

Critical Perspectives on the Body's Surface
Adeline Masquelier
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/20/2005
Format: Paperback 15 b&w photos, 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21783-7
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A magnificent volume! It offers brand new perspectives on body politics and identity or subjectivity formation in the post-colonial world." —Dorothy Ko, Barnard College

While there is widespread interest in dress and hygiene as vehicles of cultural, moral, and political value, little scholarly attention has been paid to cross-cultural understandings of dirt and undress, despite their equally important role in the fashioning of identity and difference. The essays in this absorbing and thought-provoking collection contribute new insights into the neglected topics of bodily treatments and transgressions. In detailed ethnographic studies from around the world, the contributors recast assumptions about filth and nakedness, exploring how various forms of transgression associated with the body’s surface are drawn up into relations of power and inequality. They demonstrate imaginatively how body surfaces are powerfully mobilized in the making and unmaking of moral worlds.

Author Bio

Adeline Masquelier is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Tulane University and author of Prayer Has Spoiled Everything: Possession, Power, and Identity in an Islamic Town of Niger.

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Table of Contents


Dirt, Undress, and Difference: An Introduction Adeline Masquelier
1. The Naked and the Nude: Historically Multiple Meanings of Oto (Undress) in Southeastern Nigeria Misty L. Bastian
2. Breasts, (Un)Dress, and Modernist Desires in the Balinese-Tourist Encounter Margaret Wiener
3. Body Talk: Revelations of Self and Body in Contemporary Strip Clubs Katherine Frank
4. The Naked Spirit: Disrobing, Deviance, and Dissent in Bori Possession Adeline Masquelier
5. Japanese Bodies and Western Ways of Seeing in the Late Nineteenth Century Satsuki Kawano
6. Purity and Conquest in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan Janice Boddy
7. Did You Bathe This Morning? Baths and Morality in Botswana Deborah Durham
8. The Politics of Dirt and Gender: Body Techniques in Bengali India Sarah Lamb
9. Corrupted Alterities: Body Politics in the Time of the Iranian Diaspora Janet Bauer

List of Contributors