By Virginia Smith

During this pioneering ebook, Virginia Smith combines archeology, psychology, biology, and sociology to bare how and why criteria of cleanliness have come to exist this present day. utilizing hundreds and hundreds of first-hand bills and resources, Smith deliver us from the Neolithic age to the current, peppering her enticing prose with enlightening and sometimes awesome details.

unconscious cleanliness has been with us because the first cellphone ejected a overseas invader. Even on the earliest levels of human improvement, bodies produced pleasure-giving chemical opiates whilst issues smelled or felt fresh, inducing us to do such things as bathing and removal soiled outfits. the necessity to be fresh led on to socialization, as we grew to become to our fellows for aid with these challenging to arrive spots. In Eurasia throughout the Bronze Age, an rising hierarchy of rich elites grew to become their love of grooming into an explosion of the beauty and comfort items undefined, enormously effecting the tradition and economic system of an unlimited zone and resulting in advances in chemistry and medication.
The background that follows, from Greece and Rome, the place electorate concentrated a lot in their rest time on perfecting, bathing, or simply writing concerning the version athletic physique, via Europe within the center a long time and the subsequent centuries, is stuffed with interesting customs, convoluted treatises, and plenty of reversals. Baths have been right for you, baths have been undesirable for you, baths have been sturdy again--but provided that they have been rather chilly. Even the enlightened clinical wisdom of contemporary instances couldn't cease an onslaught of overall healthiness treatments, remedies, spas, and New Age nature treatments that have been to stick to. whereas this day we're immeasurably closer--perhaps too close--to understanding simply what "clean" capability to bodies, we're nonetheless simply so far as we ever have been on agreeing what it skill to our souls.
This engrossing and hugely unique paintings will introduce you to the customs and ideas of a myriad of cultures from centuries of human historical past. not just will you achieve a brand new viewpoint at the exceptional variety of the realm, yet you'll by no means examine your toothbrush an analogous means back.

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Extra resources for Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity

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Purification was an attempt to control the universe through forethought and active intervention. By patrolling and constantly defining the spiritual boundaries and keeping the supernatural defences secure, everything was done to ensure the safety of the chapter 1 bio-physicality 31 group, ward off death, and lengthen the chances of survival. Cosmic harmony was ensured by a series of sacred purificatory rituals directly linked to universal biorhythms (often dedicated to a particular god, goddess, or spirit).

In her classic work Purity and Danger (1966), Mary Douglas reanalysed their social significance, and showed decisively how and why it was that ‘pollution fear’ came to be universally developed as a method of social control. There was nothing irrational about purity rules: they were a form of social legislation. Pollution psychology, Douglas suggested, is still very much alive today, even in our modern, technological, and highly ‘differentiated’ societies. Purity and pollution rules vary worldwide in their complexity and intensity, and have always been subject to different geographical, economic, political, and historical processes.

The Romans famously noted the Teuton or Germanic habit of cold-dipping their children and babies into streams; and something of a similar sort occurred among the people of the isolated Lofoten peninsula off northern Norway, in a ceremony observed by the Italian mariner Pietro Querini, in 1432. The round wooden houses of ‘these beautiful and immaculate people’, as he called them, ‘have only one opening to the light, up in the middle of the arch of the roof . . ’65 Modern cultural sociologists rightly describe the human body as an ‘unfinished body’—a body created by nature but finished by humans—and, by following this line, have rediscovered all sorts of different ‘social’ bodies (gendered, emotional, regulated, dominant, reproductive, economic, civilized, consuming, 44 bio-physicality chapter 1 narcissistic) with human culture imprinted firmly all over them.

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