Dirt - and our rituals to eradicate it - are as much a part of our everyday lives as eating, breathing and sleeping. Yet this very fact means that we seldom question what we mean by dirt. What do our attitudes to dirt and cleanliness tell us about ourselves and the societies we live in? This innovative work exposes the interests which underlie everyday conceptions of dirt and reveals how our ideas about it are intimately bound up with issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and the body. Exploring a wide variety of settings - domestic, urban and rural - it reveals how attitudes to dirt and cleanliness become manifest in surprisingly diverse ways, including the rituals of death and burial; architectural design aesthetics; urban infrastructure and regeneration; film symbolism; and consumer attitudes to food.
Ben Campkin is Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. With Paul Dobraszczyk he is co-editor of 'Architecture and Dirt', a special issue of the Journal of Architecture (2007). Rosie Cox is Senior Lecturer in London Studies at Birkbeck, University of London She is the author of The Servant Problem: Paid Domestic Work in a Global Economy(I.B. Tauris, 2006).