Sign up for our Email Newsletter Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
Urban Pollution: Cultural Meanings, Social Practices

View Table of Contents

Volume 15

Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Urban Pollution

Cultural Meanings, Social Practices

Edited By Eveline Dürr and Rivke Jaffe

216 pages, 16 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-692-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (August 2010)

ISBN  978-1-78238-508-0 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (February 2014)

eISBN 978-1-84545-848-5 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…this volume offers a range of useful accounts of cultural construction of pollution, deployed as an idiom in the ordering and negotiating of social relations in a range of urban settings. The illustration of how assertions of pollution are racialized, gendered, and classed, and the range of debates in which pollution is deployed as a discursive as well as material form, usefully broaden the frame of urban and environmental anthropology.  ·  Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“[These essays] are of high academic quality and present often penetrating ethnographic and historical insight into the negotiation of (im)purity in a variety of cultural contexts. They offer a stimulating and engaging read."  ·  Aidan Davison, University of Tasmania


Re-examining Mary Douglas’ work on pollution and concepts of purity, this volume explores modern expressions of these themes in urban areas, examining the intersections of material and cultural pollution. It presents ethnographic case studies from a range of cities affected by globalization processes such as neoliberal urban policies, privatization of urban space, continued migration and spatialized ethnic tension. What has changed since the appearance of Purity and Danger? How have anthropological views on pollution changed accordingly? This volume focuses on cultural meanings and values that are attached to conceptions of ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’, purity and impurity, healthy and unhealthy environments, and addresses the implications of pollution with regard to discrimination, class, urban poverty, social hierarchies and ethnic segregation in cities.

Eveline Dürr is Professor at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ludwig- Maximilians-University, Munich. She has conducted fieldwork in Mexico, the USA and Germany, and also in New Zealand while she was Associate Professor at the Auckland University of Technology. Her research focuses on urban anthropology, cultural identities and representations.

Rivke Jaffe is Associate Professor at the Centre for Urban Studies, University of Amsterdam. She previously held teaching and research positions at Leiden University, the University of the West Indies and the KITLV. She has conducted fieldwork in Jamaica, Curaçao and Suriname on topics ranging from the urban environment to public-private security assemblages.

Subject: Environmental Studies (General) Urban Studies Development Studies Anthropology (General)


List of Figures

Chapter 1. Introduction: Cultural and Material Forms of Urban Pollution
Rivke Jaffe and Eveline Dürr

Chapter 2. ‘Tidy Kiwis/Dirty Asians’: Cultural Pollution and Migration in Auckland, New Zealand
Eveline Dürr

Chapter 3. Private Cleanliness, Public Mess: Purity, Pollution and Space in Kottar, South India
Damaris Lüthi

Chapter 4. The Jungle and the City: Perceptions of the Urban among Indo-Fijians in Suva, Fiji
Susanna Trnka

Chapter 5. Gendered Fears of Pollution: Traversing Public Space in NeoliberalCairo
Anouk de Koning

Chapter 6. The Choice between Clean and Dirty: Discourses of Aesthetics, Morality and Progress in Post-Revolutionary Asmari, Eritrea
Magnus Treiber

Chapter 7.Using Pollution to Frame Collective Action: Urban Grassroots Mobilisations in Budapest
Szabina Kerényi

Chapter 8. Cleanness, Order and Security: The Re-emergence of Restrictive Definitions of Urbanity in Europe
Johanna Rolshoven

Chapter 9. Social Equity and Social Housing Densification in Glen Innes, New Zealand: A Political Ecology Approach
Kathryn Scott, Angela Shaw and Christina >Bava

Chapter 10. Afterword: Impure Thoughts on Messy Cities
Aidan Davison

Notes on Contributors

Back to Top