Summary and Info
Dirt, obsessively avoided and often misunderstood, is paradoxically also an indicator of 'civilisation' -- through the scale and variety of our waste. It arouses visceral responses such as disgust and anxiety, and has prompted ingenuity and technology to defeat it, whether through small-scale household appliances or massive engineering triumphs such as London's Main Drainage in the mid nineteenth century.Our relationship with dirt is complex and ambivalent. Dirt is waste, excrement, rubbish, bacteria -- but what then is soil, where crops grow, and to which our own bodies eventually return? Dirt may pose significant risks to our health, but it is also vital to our existence. Is cleanliness next to godliness -- or sterility? And in a throwaway society, does the never-ending battle against dirt depend on an exploited and half-seen underclass of cleaners?Published to coincide with a major exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London, and lavishly illustrated, including many images from the Wellcome's unparalleled archives, this exciting and often startling book is a provocative introduction to a vast and complex subject. Five writers and a graphic novelist pursue different themes from a range of perspectives in order to examine dirt and its contradictions, looking at human grooming and personal cleanliness; the politics of dirt in the home; dirt as source of inspiration and authenticitiy; what 'dirt' means in the community (embracing sex, religion, art and the 'filthy reach'); the brutal realities of city sanitation; and finally, the social contract underpinning waste disposal and landfill.From the microbial through to the environmental, civilisation has become adept at overlooking the filthy reality of everyday life. This stimulating book brings the subject into sharp and fascinating focus.
More About the Author
Rosemary Elizabeth Cooper (born 5 September 1950) is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for West Lancashire since 2005.
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