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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A seminal work in anthropological theory
Few anthropological works have had as profound an impact as Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger. In it she outlines an anthropological theory of purity and pollution that has become a central part of what is otherwise an often conflicted and vaguely-defined subject area. This is not to say Douglas's work has never been criticized, but that many of her ideas are now so...
Published on 30 July 2009 by Pastiche

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Difficult read but an essential for my studies
Published 6 months ago by Andrew Thorne


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A seminal work in anthropological theory, 30 July 2009
This review is from: Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
Few anthropological works have had as profound an impact as Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger. In it she outlines an anthropological theory of purity and pollution that has become a central part of what is otherwise an often conflicted and vaguely-defined subject area. This is not to say Douglas's work has never been criticized, but that many of her ideas are now so deeply ingrained in anthropological thinking that they simply appear as a given to students learning them today, whereas they revolutionized the interpretation of so-called "primitive" thought.

A reader encountering Douglas's ideas for the first time may be surprised to find that "dirt" is not intrinsically dirty, but is, rather, "matter out of place". This concept epitomizes what we might call the "anthroplogical mindset": a close attention to cultural interpretations -- and the specificity thereof.

The book begins with a sketch of European historical materials whose relation to some of the other issues surveyed is not clearly elucidated. However, this minor writer's fault can be forgiven, and the reader is encouraged to focus on Douglas's comparative analysis of sources as varied as her fieldwork among the Lele, and her (now canonical) reading of the book of Leviticus.

Beyond her addition to the canon of anthropological theory, Douglas also deserves praise for her willingness to critique her own material. The preface she wrote for the Routledge Classics paperback includes a reconsideration of her work on Leviticus that entirely justifies publishing the new edition.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 8 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
Difficult read but an essential for my studies
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good analysis of taboo concepts, 18 May 2013
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This review is from: Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
I already knew many news treated in this book but
here is interesting the Analysis and the mental
study of taboo concepts
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