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Cornell University    
  Feb 18, 2018
Courses of Study 2017-2018
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ANTHR 4478 - Taboo and Pollution

(GHB) (CA-AS)      
Fall. 4 credits. Student option grading.

M. Fiskesjö.

This course introduces students to the anthropology of taboo, dirt, disgust, cleanliness and purification, and how to understand the role of these ideas and practices in society, and not just in history, but here and now. We’ll look at range of cases, including sexual and blood taboos; the role of misogyny and disgust in recent political discourse, ideas of racial or ethnic purity and purification; taboos governing food choices or religious practices; “primitive” fear and avoidance; as well as contemporary conceptions of filth and waste and their treatment in Western societies. We’ll survey a wealth of writings on these topics, both from anthropology (Douglas, Valeri, and others) as well as from psychology, literary studies, and other fields (Freud, Kristeva, etc.).

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