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Disgust and the Anthropological Imagination

Deborah Durham
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Sweet Briar College, VA, USA

abstract Although disgust often features in anthropological shop talk and teaching, it
has not been explored as a heuristic in formal anthropological studies. I suggest that
studying disgust would contribute to understanding the tensions and revealing underdeveloped elements in some common analytical frameworks, including the mind body
relationship, the nature of the self, anthropological approaches to the senses and to
emotion, recent interest in intimacy, and the invocation of the imagination as part
of social and cultural process, as well as the ways we think about fieldwork and
write ethnographies.
keywords Disgust, emotions, body, imagination
magine, if you will, a group of anthropologists sitting down to an elegant
meal of tapas during one of their many annual professional meetings. As
the dishes arrive at the table, the anthropologists begin to exchange stories
of the foods served to them in the eld. Disgusting foods, foods that repelled
them or that their bodies eventually rejected huge sheep eyes offered to an
honored guest, rotted goats knees produced generously by residents of the
most impoverished hut, dried fat and furry caterpillars that crunch like
cheetos urged by an obese man with several hanging out of his mouth, a
massive chunk of meatless fat from the tail of a fat-tailed sheep cooked and
consumed with greedy delight by married women at the end of a wedding.
(These married women happily gorge, knowing they will very likely vomit
later that night, and suffer violent diarrhea.) To these the anthropologists
added stories about the disgust evinced by non-western people they would
known about eating lobsters, being offered food or a cigarette in a left hand,
using a French (or western) toilet, or seeing dogs inside a home and on the
beds. I doubt many readers of this journal have troubles imagining such a
discussion, nor that they would doubt that it really took place, and led to a

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panel at the American Anthropological Association meetings on anthropological studies of disgust.


I start this introductory essay with this vignette, including its appeal to the
imagination of readers, because embedded in it are so many of the issues that
an anthropology of disgust opens up for the practice of anthropology, including
the mind body problem, the nature of selfhood, ideas about the senses, intimacy and emotion, and the nature of imagination. Because disgust opens up
so many anthropological questions, it is surprising that it has not been
studied more extensively before. Or perhaps it is not surprising that disgust
has been conned to the off-hours of drinks and dinner at anthropological conventions. On the surface, such private exchanges of eld stories are a convivial
indulgence for most anthropologists, and an afrmation of our eld credentials.
Stories in our eld notes are often thought to be a more serious measure of our
scientic competence. As such they arouse, variously, sentiments of pride,
shame, or anxiety (Jackson 1990). The informal eld stories we exchange of illnesses that almost brought us down, comic misunderstandings, and disgusting
foods ventured or not bring us into a more intimate and human community of
practitioners. But they are a guilty pleasure. That we tell these stories, which
poke fun at both other peoples practices and at ourselves, makes me, at least,
a bit uneasy.
The stories hang on a dialectic self-conscious and hence to us wryly
humorous between othering and our anthropological goals of understanding
others and ourselves, which is at the heart of anthropology. We use stories like
these to capture the imaginations of bored undergraduates in our classrooms, or
to shake them from the easy complacency of multiculturalism. Against the welllearned and easily swallowed lesson of different cultures, different ways, we talk
about drinking warm milk with animal feces oating in it, ingesting corpses or
corpse liquids (Conklin 2001), stufng young girls mouths full to bursting with
fattening foods in search of pleasing jiggly stretch-marked fat (Popenoe 2004),
injecting industrial silicone into buttocks and thighs (Kulick 1998), and pulling
long stretches of intestines from a dead person and going over them closely
in search for signs of inherited witchcraft (Evans-Pritchard 1937). In recounting
these ethnographic bits we hope that students will confront the disjuncture
between their different peoples explanations and their liberal Western sense
that there is a universal humanity based on shared human experience and
feeling. We hope to prompt them to imagine themselves doing these things,
and to wonder more deeply why and how others do them. The uneasiness
that I, and others, feel about having told these stories of disgusting foods or
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practices probably derives from tensions within our lessons of cultural difference and human sameness: however, accounts of disgust involve tensions and
contradictions on many levels for anthropology. Much as the jokes between
Tonga sisters sons and mothers brothers reveal contradictions in Tonga
society (Radcliffe-Brown 1952), surely such uneasiness, and perhaps the amusement they provide off center stage, reveals unresolved questions at the heart of
anthropology.
Even as they admit the limits of participatory eldwork and of naively empathetic understanding, these heroic narratives (for even if we do not eat the disgusting foods, we triumph through explaining their meaning and their
desirability to others) use to exaggerated effect some of the same narrative
devices that we put to work in our ethnographies, sometimes focusing on the
most exotic practices, but also domesticating them with our narrative presence.
These casual ethnographies, if we can call them that, combine well-remarked
upon trends of ethnographic representation ranging from unself-conscious
claims to authority, to self-conscious reexivity. But accounts of disgust have
the potential to go beyond revealing the professional contradictions of eldwork,
teaching, and cultural representation, signicant as these all are. They may also
be important in revealing underdeveloped elements in our analytical frameworks, especially the way we think about the relationships between mind and
bodiliness, the senses, sentiment/emotion, intimacy and something we now
call the imagination in social process. All of these are problematics increasingly
invoked in contemporary ethnography, and are part of the experience of disgust
and its related sentiments. It is time, then, to start a more serious discussion of
disgust, not only the disgust that features in stories we tell about ourselves, but
an investigation of the operation of disgust in social life at large.
The Sensibility of Disgust
Disgust is, of course, a culturally and historically specic term. Just as my students are torn between the ideas that people can be both humanistically the
same, and yet culturally very different, we need to balance our own ideas of
disgust (and their history) with what it is we observe elsewhere. To my mind,
we want to retain a focus on a sentiment that unites physical experience with
emotional force and moral evaluation, features identied by Aurel Kolnai in
his pioneering 1927 essay on disgust (Kolnai 2004). To call disgust a feeling, as
does Miller (1997:2), brings out its linking of the sensory with the sensible, of
the physical with the affective, and with the judgmental. The English word
disgust, shared etymologically among Latinate languages, literally signals an
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upheaval of taste or digestion: our dinner stories in that sense got to the heart or
stomach of the matter. One of the earliest usages of the English word disgust
given by the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press 1971) is from 1611:
a queasiness, or disgust of the stomach. Disgust is a physical experience,
whether in the stomach or another part of the body. Our own particular ingestion-based understanding of disgust allowed the taste and smell and sight of
those tapas to prompt our stories of disgust, leaping from the delicious to the
disgusting. Even as the stomach and throat serve as the prototype for disgust
to us, disgust implies a mode of rejection that can engage the entire body.
Disgust can be and often is synaesthetic it expresses one sense in terms of or
in association with another, such that disgusting smells, or ugly sights, slimy surfaces, or indelicate language and offensive manners, may be felt to roil the
stomach, or pain the eyes, tighten the chest, throw one off-balance, or do all
together. Although we often think of western culture as privileging the visual,
studying disgust alerts us to the importance of other elds of knowing and
sensing even in our own culture, especially (for us) in the complex of senses,
from smell to sound to balance, connected with our stomachs.1
We should anticipate that something like disgust might anchor itself in other
sensory elds in other cultures, whether visual, motile, tactile, auditory, or in an
intersubjective instead of personal eld. For Kapsiki of Cameroon, for example,
smell anchors in primary ways at least some sensory elds (van Beek 1992; see
also Almagor 1987). We could use an anthropology of disgust to explore
further different cultural constructions of the senses and to link a cultural anthropology of the senses to a cultural anthropology of affect.2 There is a rich and
growing literature on the senses in our own and other cultures.3 Geurts (2002)
has described a sensorium for Anlo-Ewe of Ghana in which key terms (and
the experiences they describe) simply do not match up with the American sensorium: basic senses include balance, as well as smell and hearing, and a kind of
feeling-within. How might disgust at the taste of a food, at repulsive sights, at
other peoples behavior be experienced as a loss of balance, a change in the
quality of hearing, a shift in visual acuity, or through a sense of smell that is
not felt as a dimension of taste? How might looking at disgust in these other
sensoriums help us understand the moral dimensions of sensing, and the physical bases of emotion, and how moral judgment is, in one way or another, felt?
Dassanetch pastoralists say that the smell of sh is distasteful, but they do eat
the sh even as they nd themselves pinching their noses or turning their
heads away from the shermen (Almagor 1987; p. 8, /l. 280). Should we distinguish
disgust from mere distaste, dislike, or disapproval? One question theorists of
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disgust working even in their own cultures tackle is what range of feelings should
be analyzed under the term disgust, or how to think about the range that inevitably falls into that feeling. (Kolnais German ekel included a sense of fear and students of disgust in Germany might include fear in their studies, whereas those in
America probably would not make fear central.) In the sense that disgust is physically experienced, disgust goes beyond mere distaste or dislike, although both
these terms are often used to explain disgust (as they are in the OED), and are
clearly part of its complex and wide-ranging semantic bundle. Like such anthropological terms as kinship or marriage, disgust should serve as a heuristic, something to prompt us to ask questions, not an object in and of itself. Considering
whether to single out disgust, or to bundle it with the range of sentiments that
include dislike or fear, should involve not only a reection on how disgust
differs from place to place, but a consideration of what is at stake in linking or
distinguishing various feelings for our own analytical projects, and what differences and stakes are recognized in the societies we study. The experience of
bodily response or rejection, whether in nausea, a shiver, a feeling of being eviscerated or thrown off-balance, or an involuntary closing or turning away of eyes,
is, to my analysis, an important element of disgust when Mr Darcys proud
manners disgust the residents of Longbourne and its environs, in the novel
Pride and Prejudice, that it is disgust and not something else suggests a deeply
felt impulse to draw away from him is being invoked, an impulse that is, later
in the novel, difcult for people to overcome. I have chosen here to focus on a
disgust that has this corporal dimension of rejection, because it seems key to
the core western concept, and also because it steers us to bridge in new ways
the mind body dualism that anthropologists regularly nd so problematic.
By contrast with disgust, distaste sounds almost effete, a sensibility more
than a sensation, expressed in words not the body, by those who maintain
their distance from the object. (The bridging of distance is an important dimension I discuss below.) We experience disgust, not distaste, for objects that are
baser, more associated with nature. When applied across social classes,
disgust is often directed against lower classes in a social hierarchy to suggest
baser, coarser, more animalistic characteristics, instead of mere distaste, reserved
for more middling class practices: one is disgusted by rank sweaty smells,
perhaps, but nds cheap wine merely distasteful.
Nonetheless, we can draw disgust and distaste back together: both operate
at the level of senses and feelings to produce or naturalize class distinctions.
Bourdieus (1984) study of how nely tuned class distinctions are felt and
realized in music, furnishing, and other aesthetics, is not all that different
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from the complaints by white ofcials in South Africa about the rank smell and
crowded disorder of Colored households in the Cape Flats (Jensen 2008). The
tastes in wine or art that make distinctions among the middle classes are built up
as habitus, ingrained into unreective if profoundly meaningful bodily practices
and orientations.4 The sweaty body of a workman or the strong smell of
cooking in a lower-class house is not really naturally disgusting, it only
becomes so through training; meanwhile that cheap wine could become physically undrinkable (disgusting) to someone with a supertrained palate, or a deep
rejection of the comestibles of low classes.
An early use of the word disgust given by the OED (the earliest usage it cites)
refers to opinion, a disgust or unkindness, and invokes the sense both of nely
tuned social interactions, of social ruptures, linked with moral revulsion, and
response to behaviors or situations that seem beyond the stomachs sensibilities.
This citation suggests that disgust has long been a feature of social, not natural,
discriminations (witness Thomas Jeffersons comment, cited in the OED, about
someones gay apparel arousing a general disgust against him). Nowhere is
this aspect of disgust more fun to read about than in Eliass (1978) The Civilizing
Process, which looks at books of manners from the medieval to the modern
period in Europe advising when and where it is appropriate to spit, vomit,
pee, fart, blow ones nose, and point out worrisome matter on the sheets to
someone sharing the bed at an inn. In earlier periods, offenses in these areas
were dened by the relationship between offender and his audience: spitting
was not nauseating in itself or to the spitter, but to those who saw it (Elias
1978:131); looking at snot in a handkerchief was wrong insofar as it showed a
lack of respect towards the people you are with (Elias 1978:125). These acts
were disgusting only when social rank was involved: a servant or person of
lower class could be witness to the odd matter in the bedclothes, the snot, or
the vomit; a person of equal or higher class most certainly could not.
The idea of disgust as a means of moral distinction, anchored in the social
sphere, sits well in anthropology. Probably the most common theme in
studies of disgust is that it marks boundaries, or creates them, both in the
material and in the social world. Disgust is extremely effective at doing so precisely because it naturalizes differences and distinctions through its physicality.
Lawler (2005), for example, follows Bourdieus approach to taste and distinction
to look at disgust and distinction. She notes how descriptions of working class
British often invoke images of unkempt hair, dirty tattoos and piercings, and
tight t-shirts on accid bodies to convey both disgust and class difference:
the dirty eshy unkempt poor are naturalized as lower class both in their
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own bodies and in the bodies of those disgusted by them. Nussbaum (2010)
describes how the Family Research Institute in the USA uses deliberately physically evocative language to produce a sense of disgust at gay sex and to dehumanize gays in general. This is more than a matter of producing negative
stereotypes. By anchoring that moral revulsion in the body and senses, both
in bodies of others as well as in the sense of disgust evoked for the feeler,
social distinctions are naturalized even as they are moralized. An analytical
emphasis on creating and maintaining felt boundaries and distinctions,
however, risks reifying the individual or self as the subject of disgust, and overlooking its transcendent possibilities, subjects I return to below.
Body and Mind
Feeling both natural and moral, disgust complicates our analyses of body and
mind. The guilty stories we told over tapas turned on a conict between our
physical experience and our mental or intellectual one, between our knowing
caterpillars are delicious, nutritious, and even a local seasonal specialty, and
an inability to make our bodies eat them. Disgust can seem more to be
beyond rational management or control of the disgusted person, less an
element of choice or possible affectation than mere distaste: in this sense,
disgust is of the body and distaste of the mind.5 Insofar as American
notions of disgust center on the stomach (even when the subject of disgust is
not food), disgust is part of an array of sensations that are seen to be beyond
reason and rationality. To feel something in ones gut or know something
in ones gut is to know it both without information or without having reasoned
it through, and also to know it surely and incontrovertibly: like gut-knowledge,
disgust in American is both non-rational, yet also a form of knowledge.
There is a long history in anthropology and in other intellectual elds of
productive critique of mind body dualism in western thought. That critique
tends to explore the dualism as an intellectual history stretching back through
Christianity and the rationalist legacy of the Enlightenment, to the Greek
philosophers, and tends to respond to that intellectual history by showing
how bodiliness is not, in fact, distinct from mindfulness. When examining the
dualistic model, discussions sometimes focus on philosophical traditions and
intellectual histories; when exploring embodiment as a mindful activity or
thought as integrated with physicality, many accounts turn towards peoples
lived lives. In studying disgust we will have to explore both processes the
integration of bodiliness and mindfulness, and the experience in peoples lived
lives of body and mind as distinct.
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Anthropologists have dealt with the mind body relationship in different


ways. It is not the project of this essay to review them, but to suggest how
looking at disgust may contribute. Douglass (1966) work Purity and Danger is
a common reference point for many studies of disgust. Douglas opens her
book with a story (as we so often do!) about her physical discomfort in using
a bathroom that had been put into a room housing garden tools and gumboots.
She analyzes her discomfort as arising from the rooms confounding two spaces
that are conceptually distinct hygienic bathrooms and grubby garden sheds.
Disgust, revulsion, and fear of dirt and pollution, she argues, serve to maintain
the boundaries of conceptual categories, such as sterile human hygiene and
garden growth, or the domestic and the natural worlds, that are the very structure of a culture or society. Douglass insight that a sense of danger and power
haunts those spaces and items that violate categorial distinction is an important touchstone for contemporary theorizing of disgust (Miller 1997; Nussbaum
2010). Disgusting objects and acts are often those that violate boundaries,
especially boundaries between what we consider human and non-human,
sacred and profane, and between our selves and non-selves (where feces,
snot, and corpses are situated). Important social categories, including race,
class, and gendered categories, are also, in this vein, policed by our sense of
revulsion, disgust, and fear of what Douglas (1966) calls matter out of place
(p. 48). Insofar as Douglas brings body and mind together in this act of policing
categories, she brings them into a partnership more than a merging: the body
follows and supports a mental ordering of the world. Douglas body is
aroused when mental categories are violated, and it can serve itself as a kind
of map for categories.6 Her model differs from that of Bourdieu (1977), whose
idea of habitus makes the body a constitutive site of cultural practice, consonant
with instead of in some kind of tension with the (mentally) cognized world.
Although Bourdieu may seem the more sophisticated thinker today, Douglas,
in not making the body entirely consonant with mindfulness, left open an analytically interesting space of decidedly messy creativity and power.
The body, and its physical and at some level inchoate reactions, its lack of
clear boundaries, and resistance to conceptual, categorial mastery, has, or
may be felt to have, its own life and input into social and cultural processes
of transgression, as work by Stallybrass and White (1986), Masquelier (2005),
and Cohen (2005) illustrate so well. Bakhtin, too, provides a messier model of
disgusting bodily exuberance at odds with the regularities and regulations of
social order. In his study of Rabelais (Bakhtin 1968), bold offensive physicality
is a mode of expression in itself used by the populace in the face of elites,
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both parodying elite excess, but transforming it into something that exceeds
clear discursive meaning, emotionally intense, socially critical and funny.
As this populace is captured into a market economy, that economy is then
charged by the physical expressions of its source, a physicality that cannot be
reduced simply by deriving its meaning from social structures or cultural
laws, nor should it, in my opinion, simply be treated as a source of raw
energy from mans physical nature.
Without abandoning important anthropological insights into the constructedness of bodily experience it is clear that the very experience of disgust is
formed and formed differently in cultural contexts, as the above discussion of
the senses indicates disgust draws our attention to gaps between bodily
knowledge and experience, and the kind of meaning that is shaped through
more formal symbolic processes. (It is no accident that the unease that
Douglas feels in that garden shed-bathroom comes at the breakdown of
formal symbolism.) Maurice Bloch, for one, has asked us to explore the
nature of inarticulate meaning, different from articulate forms of meaning
which have structures, categories, and logic (Bloch 1991). Inarticulate meanings
are often found in bodily experience: for example, I found for Herero dress in
Botswana that embodied sensibilities contrasted with the meanings Herero
invoked verbally, which often referred to distinctions in social categories
(men, women, Herero, Tswana) (Durham 1999). The worn dress shaped sensibilities of social connectedness, strength, skill, attractiveness, and command of
space and labor; the verbally discussed dress was restrictive, burdensome, and
often represented as alienating Herero from Botswanas civic life. Because of
its multiple elds of meaning, the dress was all the more powerful, doing
meaning work in different registers at the same time, and in doing so setting
the stage for a dynamic politics of meaning that would always, ultimately, be
unresolved. Disgust, too, is a way of physical knowing that can be at odds
with discursive or rational knowing, with a result that, in Millers words
(1997:201), [o]ur moral world is thus as odds with itself.
While disgust is a moral sentiment, it can be at odds with other ways in
which we experience and exercise morality. Both Blochs essay and my
article on dress looked at embodied and inarticulate meanings in a fairly positive
light contrasted with the divisive eld of articulate meanings (as does postFreudian feminist literature). We found elds of intimacy, connectedness, and
shared imaginations in inarticulate meaning. But disgust as an inarticulate
locus of meaning reveals the gap where morality at odds with itself is full of
complex tensions. In 2010, major on-line American newspapers often featured
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an advertisement in the margins for Operation Smile, a charity that provides


corrective surgery for children with cleft palates. A small non-Europeanlooking child with a pronounced cleft palate looked out from the ad: the
sense of pity, and motivation to contribute that the charity hoped to inspire,
drew power from that space between physical repulsion, or disgust, at the
Other, and the more articulate moral request that the wealthy help the poor,
the older the younger, and the West the rest. The ad drew also on the sense
of compassion that comes with feeling the physical deformity oneself, and
the Western lessons of common humanity. There has been a recent eforescence of literature on the anthropology of sentiments like love, sentiments
that serve to link people together in the context of globalization. But there
are other powerful sentiments at work, such as disgust, with less salutary
effects. Christopher Taylors paper in this issue indicates how this gap can be
more powerful than just two ways of knowing at direct odds with one
another. Taylor looks at the often-forgotten people in Rwandas history of
ethnic conict: Twa, whose smell and diet, economic activities and saliva
arouse disgust in their neighbors. Taylor suggests that the physical repulsion
expressed toward Twa fostered a sense of physical difference that allowed
earlier political or social distinctions between Hutu and Tutsi to gain the
force that eventually led to genocide. And what does it mean today, in a recuperating Rwanda, that someone knows that Twa should be given respect as
people, and even so shudders at sharing with a Twa person a drinking vessel
he would share with others?
Nussbaum (2010), studying how disgust operates in legal debates over samesex and interracial sexuality in the USA, puts disgust at direct odds with a
reasoned morality, calling it an unreliable force that masks many forms of
stigma and hierarchy (p. 199). Nussbaum pits embodied knowledge against a
seemingly clean-cut and morally better rationality originating in the Enlightenment, but there is more at work in the dynamic space where the body seems to
be at odds with the mind than unreasonable oppression. Laura Bellows article
in this issue describes how in Indonesia, generating disgust at sexual practices
stamped foreign and pornographic extends to nding cultural practices of
the body, such as forms of bathing or dress, as pornographic and hence
Other. Liberalization has brought both new technology and new media into
Indonesia: now people can watch pornographic performances on their computers, televisions, and cellphones or make pornographic recordings themselves
and send them rapidly to a large audience. People readily identify the sexual acts
they see with different nationalities (Arab sex, Japanese sex, or American sex),
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or, when Indonesians are involved, with ethnic identiers that other sexual
acts. New anti-pornography laws, however, target more than the sexual act:
they target a range of bodily practices which could include forms of dress,
dance, and movement that fall into the Indonesian category of adat or tradition.
Balinese become both alien and disgusting as they bathe, dance or dress in local
fashions, even as bestiality, anal and oral sex, other sexual practices ourish in
peoples computer, television, and cellphone screens, and perhaps in their
own bodily practices where they experiment with, or become, something
other than Indonesian.
Even as looking at disgust takes us into a space where the body is at odds
with the mind, we also nd disgust to be fundamentally related with two processes typically thought of as mental. One is the imagination, which I return to
in a later section. The other is, more vaguely, knowledge. Even as disgust opens
up a sense of difference between mind-knowing and physical sensibilities, such
as Nussbaum works with, or even physical knowing, such as gut-knowledge,
disgust does depend upon knowing. I recall eating a dish as a young teenager
in France. I had not quite caught the name when my hosts told me, but as I
ate and looked at the meat, certainly palatable but unfamiliar in taste, it
slowly dawned on me that it was rabbit. I ran to the bathroom to contain my
stomachs revolt, a revolt only precipitated by my knowledge that the meat
was rabbit (and by my narrow eating habits and sentimental reading, as an
American child). A somewhat different situation, and far more interesting,
arises in Masqueliers essay in this issue, where the question of who knows
what, when, and how is integral to the sense of disgust. In her paper, she
explores the reactions of participants in a bori spirit possession ceremony in
Niger, during which a young woman stood up to reveal a large menstrual
blood stain on the white wrapper she wore as an acolyte of Maria, a spirit
obsessed with clean white clothing and whose tastes for sweet things are connected with infertility. Expressions of disgust were varied, but notably few if any
reected a natural abhorrence of menstrual blood in and of itself. To some
extent disgust centered on the overt confusion the menstrual blood posed
between the fertile and messy young woman herself and the meticulous and
infertile Maria, two entities seen as discrete. Of particular interest, however,
was the reaction of the host of the ceremony, for whom the ceremony was
an initiation. Her disgust was directed at the way the menstrual blood was
allowed to be seen, and was not hidden or restrained, and at the ways that
making known menstruation also made the transgressor the center of attention
at the ceremony and afterwards. Very like the late medieval proscriptions on
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public farting or being seen peeing in the corner of a room described by Elias,
what was disgusting was not that the young woman was menstruating, nor even
that she put herself in the way to be possessed by Maria while menstruating
(though this was wrong, it is something people do discreetly), it was that she
made it public, visibly, dramatically public, and at another womans initiation,
that roused disgust.

The Disgusted Self and Transcendent Imagination


Elias traced rightly or wrongly a western history in which disgust
oriented around the interactions and relationships of people in public spaces
was transformed into a private concern, focusing on home life and ideas of personal health. Most studies of disgust today start by conceptualizing it as a
private, individual experience; doing so, they then both naturalize it and universalize it. Disgust, located in our western stomachs and seeming resistant to
rationalization, can feel like a physiologically natural response, effectively
stamping a rejected practice, or food, or class as naturally repellant to human
or social sensibilities. Such an approach locates the origins and experience of
disgust in the individuals body, and can lead to the idea that disgusts
natural function is to defend the boundaries of the self, both physically
against unsuitable foods and psychologically in defense of ones integrity.
The OED uses the word instinctive (profound instinctive dislike) in its denition, and some psychological analyses that think of disgust as instinctive
refer to it as an evolutionary mechanism for defense against infectious
disease, as one version puts it (Curtis & Biron 2001:18). Many accounts of
disgust, especially those in psychology, psychoanalysis, or phenomenology,
take as their starting point that some things are, in fact, naturally disgusting
to humans (Miller 1997). But what things? Menninghaus notes that [e]very
study of disgust. . .runs the danger of disclosing as much about the author as
about his subject (Menninghaus 2003:20). Aurel Kolnai is apparently disgusted
by things that suggest sheer swarming prolic fertility and by beery singing
voices; William Miller by pubic hair, semen, and the disabled; Julia Kristeva
(1982) by the skin on the surface of milk, as well as corpses, pus, and shit; and
many of the German artists and theorists Menninghaus studies return again
and again to the gure of the ugly old woman to illustrate what naturally disgusts all of us. They can generalize from their own sense of disgusting things,
both because they assume that disgust is a natural and universal experience,
and because they assume it takes place in the self, and is about the self.
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Freudian psychology is a common point of reference for disgust, with its suggestion that learning disgust at excreta and aspects of sexuality is the necessary
rst step towards a complex human psyche and civilization: without disgust we
remain undifferentiated both from our surroundings and in our inner being.
While society clearly plays a double role in such approaches both wresting
the proto-human from his animal union with disgusting nature (as logos), and
also developing out of the sublimated energies that must be directed elsewhere
(civilization) the individual is the locus of both disgust and its transformed
energy. We see this in those accounts that trace the creative and transgressive
uses to which disgust has or can be put, where the abjected becomes sublime
and transcendent. Menninghaus (2003), who cleverly refuses to dene disgust
in any absolute manner, traces how various European thinkers and artists
make disgust the source of creativity and transcendence. It is a highly personal
creativity, and an individual transcendence: reaching for ones own abjection,
one comes to understand the reality of oneself and transcend the boundaries
and blinkers instilled by society, perhaps even merging ones own self with a
transcendent reality. Other scholars who examine how ideas about dirt are
intertwined with growing class and racial distinctions may acknowledge
disgust as an emotion generated by social processes, yet also nd its experience
by individuals a means of transcending social structure, realizing artistic creativity, and pursuing very personal excitement (McClintock 1995; Cohen & Johnson
2005). Experiencing disgust, according to these approaches, a disgust enmeshed
with social structures, is the means not only of realizing a truer self, but it allows
the self to pursue novel, creative pathways, and fantasies.
Anthropology has always allowed us, through the study of other societies, to
examine our assumptions, especially our assumptions about human psychology
(Mead 1964). We can dredge up as we did that dinner over tapas seemingly
endless examples of other people (or even ourselves) literally embracing the
very things proposed as universally disgusting, such as corpses, about which
there is a large ethnographic corpus. While Wari Indians did eat the cooked
corpses of afnes with some difculty (Conklin 2001), occasionally retching,
many people embrace corpses of their relatives with affectionate care: Fadwa
El Guindi describes rushing to Egypt to wash and prepare her mothers
body for burial herself without any sense that the body of an old woman
must be repulsive (El Guindi 2008). But what anthropology is especially
equipped to challenge, more important than ideas about corpses, is the way
that westerners theorize disgust as essentially anchored in the self, and about
the self.
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Anthropology has been examining critically the premise of a bounded, integral self as a universal experience for a long time now. We have numerous ethnographies examining other ways of experiencing the self: divisible selves,
relational selves, situational selves, multiple selves, heterogeneous selves, communal selves, selves that take different shapes during different life stages,
abound in the world, and challenge the western premise of an individuated
self. Mausss (1985 [1938]) suggestive essay on the self and person argued
that the western sense of selfhood, with its emphasis on self-consciousness
and personalized subjectivity, is a distinctive (and fragile) feature of western
modernity. Studies of disgust can dovetail nicely with Mausss essay. Eliass
study of nose-blowing and farting, for example, attempts to show a historical
move from publicly signicant sentiments to privately felt, and interiorized,
ones from shame to disgust, a contrast akin to the familiar one of shame
and guilt. Similar points are made by other historians: even as an interiorized
disgust is mobilized to make new forms of distinction between races and
classes (McClintock 1995; Burke 1996; Boddy 2005), the repudiation [of
human waste and decay] as lthy is a core feature of bourgeois individuation
(Cohen 2005:xviii) connected in complex ways with commodication and
consumerism as a means of cultivating individuality and selfhood, as indeed
these studies of soaps and sewers show.
And yet, creeping into some theories of disgust is a sense that disgust not only
monitors the boundaries of the self, or transforms the self into something more
sublime, but that its operational character is such that it links a persons experience with things outside himself, extending (though not necessarily transcending) the self. Disgust requires an act of imagination to put oneself into a condition
or position one is not in at the moment, and this move gures importantly in
phenomenological accounts. Disgust, as Kolnai puts it, forms a bridge
between the provoking object and the subject: its intentional nature adheres
to and penetrates its objects rather than merely signaling and portending their
disquieting presence or proximity, the tip of the intention penetrates . . .
probing and analyzing . . . becoming immersed in its motions or its persistence
(Kolnai 2004:40, 100, 39). Insofar as disgust also involves a rejection of the object,
it is not a sympathetic immersion in the object; insofar as that disgusted rejection
is physically enacted, the immersion is imagined but not sustained. Nonetheless,
disgust is a feeling that emerges as a person imagines him or herself to be intimate (a term Kolnai also uses) with something else. It is, of course, this imagined
intimacy, the reaching out and xing on an object, that we invoked both in our
tapas-induced stories, and in telling our bored or complacent undergraduates to
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think vividly and hard about corpse uids, genital cutting, or the pleasing quiver
of loose folds of stretch-marked esh. And we count on that drawing back, on
the limits of sympathy, to prompt a more analytical (and not merely sympathetic) exploration of how and why such things become desirable or doable.7
Eliass account of a medieval disgust that operated between people (and
especially people of different ranks), depending on their mutual presence and
recognition, directs us to look at disgust as an intersubjective phenomenon,
and not simply a mechanism arising from and defending the self. Furthermore,
it alerts us to the fact that intersubjectivity can have powerful negative dimensions, and to be careful about invoking intersubjectivity as a romanticized
recognition of the interdependence of human consciousness with people and
surroundings. The professions of disgust at the living quarters or bodies of
Colored South Africans uttered by white government ofcials, mentioned
above, are a case in point: a messy house, cooking smells, and the sweat of
honest labor might not be considered disgusting outside the Cape Flats, or
if shared experientially with different people. The experience has been developed through exchanges with other people (the suspicious or hostile resident
of the Cape Flats, other white ofcers, the foreign-born ethnographer), and
indeed with other places. Intersubjectivity has been invoked by anthropologists
in a variety of projects, ranging from its role in eldwork and writing, to general
proposals about the ways in which personhood is constructed through social
interactions, to studies of how emotion and feelings are understood within
particular cultures (see Hollan & Throop 2008:386f.). Studying disgust brings
us into questions of intersubjectivity, both as a general principle of human
experience, and as a specic one within local cultures. It is especially in the
latter case that the complexity and surprising experiential tensions in disgust
and intersubjectivity show up.
Julie Livingston has recently published an exciting article on disgust and
botho (humanity) in Botswana, based on her work among disabled children
and in cancer wards (Livingston 2008). Researchers have been interested in
the intersubjective nature of many emotions and experiences in Botswana for
some time now.8 I described love and jealousy as two emotions that operate
across bodily space; they work in the heart of one person and in the bodies
of others (Durham 2002:159, see also Durham 2005) as ones love produces
fatness and well-being in ones object, and jealousy produces illness, misfortune,
and unhappiness. (Not all sentiment was conceived of as so fully intersubjective:
by contrast, desire/want was thought of as a more individual, selsh, and
individuating sentiment.) Frederick Klaits describes how people, aware of
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how feelings (maikutlo) are both inuenced by and inuence others sensations
and sentiments, are careful about how they feel in their blood, and imagine the
impact of how they speak about their feelings, as they enter a house where
someone is ill or mourning (Klaits 2010:126). The ailment dikgaba, affecting
the success of projects and the well-being of offspring, is a manifestation of
the anger or disappointment of senior relatives, and its removal must include
calm, cool forgiveness on the seniors part, as well as cooling medications
(Lambek & Solway 2001).
In this context, Livingston describes how when she interviewed people
about mopokwane (with symptoms overlapping cerebral palsy), they often
physically mimicked the ungainly walk and drooping wrists and struggling
speech patterns, a practice involving both an element of ridicule and one of
morbid curiosity. Such mimicry ts well with Kolnais sense that disgust
involves both a reaching out or intentionality towards the object at the
same time as a drawing back (a tension that, echoing Radcliffe-Browns
theory of joking relations, also illuminates the sense of mockery/jokiness).
Livingston also describes practices of avoidance of the saliva of the disabled
not only the drooling saliva that people sometimes pointed to as indicative
of mopokwane, but also cups and utensils used by them or even just belonging
to their families. Such avoidance and mockeries are problematic, as people
know, in the context of recent government efforts to promote botho as a
national consciousness. Botho is an awareness not only of the shared humanity
of all people, but especially of the impact of ones own actions (and sentiments, we might add) on others. Botho, as Livingston explains, has long
been a part of Tswana life, although it is being put to new uses at the
present: botho involved an awareness of the intense, intimate, on-going
exchanges that constitute sociality, from handshakes to greetings, shared
foods, and gossip. Mothers and relatives who care for their disabled children,
and chiefs inviting disabled miners to public forums, work to overcome their
disgust and fear of the saliva, smells, and unsettling bodily movements of
people, and are exemplars of botho. Even more intense is the cancer ward,
where patients and visitors contend with the smells and sights of open,
pus-lled, necrotic wounds and tumors, and talk about the effects of chemotherapy or mastectomies all fraught with the intersubjective potential
for harm. One way that people manage the disruption to botho that smells
and disgusting sights provoke, or the parodies and suspicions of witchcraft
that might occupy neighbors, is to sequester the aficted, protecting both
the ill and others. But others, and Livingston singles out the nurses on the
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cancer ward, work to overcome disgust through focusing on the positive


possibilities of care and compassion as core elements of botho.
Livingstons remarkable essay shows how complex disgust is, as an intersubjective phenomenon in a specic context a complexity and richness predicted
by the general theoretical musings on disgust. Although disgust can prompt
sequestration and avoidance, this possibility co-exists with a range of disgustbased practices that bring people into an intimacy with the object through
physical mimicry, and with practices that develop peoples capacity for botho
by bringing them into direct contact with the disabled or wounded in public
forums like the chiefs court, or in professional activities and friendly visits in
hospitals. Botho is, in many ways, especially realizable through such things as
disgust (or jealousy, or anger). Sharing a beer glass with a co-worker or a plate
with a friend at a funeral, or grasping the hand of an elegant young woman
offered in greeting are routine and, if examples of botho, are also unreective.9
If botho is being aware of how ones actions take effect in other people, it both
prompts some people to hide away the disabled and ill, as they imagine their
effects on others and the effects of others reactions on themselves. But it also
prompts some to use their disgust to help the disabled bathe before eating, to
provide perfumes for the sick ward, and to share their emotional space.
Intimacy and Imagination
Intimacy and imagination have become compelling terms in anthropology in
the last decade or so. Our interest in intimacy balances contemporary studies of
such things as globalization, colonialism, or economic inequality, showing how
large-scale processes actually take place in the smaller arenas of parent child
relationships, love, hope, and planning for the future (Cole & Durham 2007). Intimacy refers to the ways that people in close proximity form relations to one
another that are affective in nature and responsive to larger social processes.
We have become interested in intimacy in part because anthropology has
always focused on its classic sites domestic sites, small communities, faceto-face interactions and is able therefore to show how large-scale processes
become real and are in fact made up in intimate settings. We also have
become interested in intimacy because it is one of the correctives to a rules
and structure anthropology that described normative relationships within
overall structures that is, roles but also avoids assuming human actions to
be the outcome of strict rational decision-making. By looking at the affective
dimensions of such relationships, we were able to see better how roles were
motivated from below, rather than simply enforced from above. Intimacy also
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draws our attention to intersubjectivity, to the ways in which roles are not roles
assumed by the individual, but are instead relational ways of being. Relationships
are the outcome of affective practices, as much as a set of laws, expected behaviors, individuals posturing in front of but distinct from others, or structural
rules for social reproduction. There is a tendency right now in anthropology
to explore affective intimacy as it binds people together especially in love,
desire, and caring.10 That is to say, there is a tendency to look at affect in ways
that answer the classic fundamental question of social theory: how do people
who are inherently individual become bound together into social relationships,
against those tendencies that would tear society apart? But here, I draw attention
to intimacys role in those negative tendencies, as well as ask that we explore
how affect gures into the experience of individualism. Anger, jealousy, and
disgust are intimate affects with complex and ambiguous effects.
Disgust is a sentiment that confounds, and it is an intimate one on many
levels. This is not to say that disgust is rooted in individuals contemplation of
those (animal and universal) aspects of their bodies that become private,
hidden, and rejected. Disgust is intimate because it is, as others have noted,
dependent upon proximity. Miller (1997), for example, who sees disgust as a
means of defending the self and creating boundaries (and creating dynamic
and titillating elds of transgression), notes that it is only the threat of contamination, or threat to self, through proximity that arouses disgust. Feces become
disgusting when we are faced with touching them, smelling them, seeing
them; feces sent neatly away to ne occulation tanks well out of our reach
are undesirable, but not disgusting. The unwashed poor are pathetic, admirable
or disapproved, and different while living in distant elds; when they come into
the cities in masses with industrialization, they become disgusting, as people
draw up new moral and aesthetic boundaries.11 Twa in the forests, making
pottery, eating and living their own lives are just different: in Christopher
Taylors article on Rwanda in this issue, Twa become disgusting as they share
drinking vessels and social space.
But this intimacy is too easily portrayed in spatial terms, as in my suggestion
that anthropology is well poised to study intimacy because it has traditionally
studied small communities. Intimacy can take place across space as indeed
new anthropological studies of transnational families, on-line communities,
and the power of images of teary-eyed children in Latin America to generate
care from midwestern Americans reveal. Lawlers (2005) article on the
disgust-provoking images of the working class in Britain, mentioned above,
helps us think about the specic ways in which the intimacy of disgust takes
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place across space in particular through the imagination. The images of the
working class in print media, in television sitcoms, and in other sites bring
the poor into the living rooms of the disgusted bourgeoisie, a form of proximity,
true, but it is not just the circulation of the images into that space that effectively
creates the disgust. Disgust creates intimacy, as much as the more common
observation that intimacy creates disgust. As Lawler notes, the disgust in this
case is bodily based. The descriptions of unkempt hair, multiple piercings and
tattoos, crying children, and ashy cigarettes work through a felt physical resonance, and simultaneous rejection a confounding also described by Julie
Livingston in her account of Tswana people mimicking the disabled in both
curiosity and mockery. An act of imagination is necessary to bring the living,
sensible disgusting matter into the sphere of intimacy of the disgusted bourgeoisie an imagination that is as much bodily as mental, an imagination that puts
one bodily into a different situation. The hair and cigarette, the drooping wrist
and stammering talk resonate into our intimate space through an act of bodily
imagination, or imaginative incorporation.
Thinking about disgust, then, prompts us to interrogate and open up the
idea of the imagination that is so popular in anthropology today.12 While
recent critiques argue that in anthropology the imagination and its correlate
the imaginary have become simple synonyms for what we used to call
culture, with many of the problems of that concept slipped in (Strauss 2006;
Sneath et al. 2009), disgust may direct us towards useful dimensions of the
term. I do not think imagination is most productive as a simple substitute
for culture; instead it usefully focuses on a particular cultural act. Imagination
is applied to things one does not know hence Anderson (1991) invoked
imagination to talk about how people think about their relationship to
other people they have never met and never will meet as members of the
same nation, and Appadurai (1996) invoked how people think about distant
places in the context of globalization. While of course all knowledge is to
some extent imagined (and this is the position implied by the Kantian premises used by Sneath et al.), many people distinguish between what they
know through common-sense knowing, what they know through accepting
authoritative pronouncements, forms of knowing that are more personal,
and those that involve a degree of, well, imagining. Stafford, for example,
describes the different ways in which numbers are apprehended and used in
China, from predictable mathematical gures, to imaginative guides to life
and success (Stafford 2009). Disgust, confounding so many forms of knowledge, linking both in-the-gut sureness with the intentionality towards a very
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alien unknown object, is a form that forces us to ask what is at work, or at play,
in imaginative acts.
Imagination invokes something cerebral it refers to the creation of a picture
in the mind, a kind of abstract and schematic knowledge and as such it often
has a reective, reactive connotation as well. The global imagination, the national
imagination, are primarily a kind of knowledge about something, about what
other people are doing, and anthropologists are drawn to media as transmitting
images of these doings. Insofar as these images engage the imaginer (and of
course, they do), they allow him to be part of the picture. But we should consider
the felt part of imagination, too, keeping in mind especially that the imagination
can be both a bodily act, and a form of action.
The imaginative impulse of disgust is effective because it is an intimate
impulse, an act of body as much as mind, not a cerebral, distanced one. To be
disgusted, one imagines oneself either as other or in other situations.13 Reports
of villagers in Sierra Leone with their hands cut off were most effective as one
felt, in ones own body, the pain, the shock, the frustrations of their handlessness;
the idea of eating solid sheep-tail fat is disgusting as I think of the feel of the fat in
my mouth, and as my stomach sympathetically feels the diarrhea and vomiting
that some of the more greedy eaters suffer. Similarly, in Rwanda, the perceived
runny nose of the Twa is a symptom of eating mutton: it is the resonant thought
of ingesting the mutton and its felt manifestation in the runny nose that makes
Twa not just different, but disgusting. I read an account of someone eating the
beating heart torn from a cobras body (Bourdain 2001:269); although the
language was vivid and the scene easily imaginable as on a movie screen (and
since then probably has appeared on TV), and I thought the whole thing disgusting in an abstract moral way, I was not disgusted in that I simply could not
imagine myself into that situation. I had no bodily resonance. Finally, in
Botswana one day a group of women (and I) laughed and laughed over a description of one of their neighbors tending to her aging and incontinent mother,
holding her nose and running out of the house and across the yard with
soiled sheets and clothes it was funny as a mental image, it only became
disgusting (though with the mocking humor that Livingston described) when
we took the further step of imagining ourselves as that woman.
If we think of disgust as an act of an embodied imagination, and combine
that insight with the idea that disgust is both about intimacy/proximity and
distantiation, we can posit an important and underappreciated dimension of
disgust. Disgust is a form of action, not a reaction, and not simply a motivation
(although it can motivate further action, of course). The action it accomplishes
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is to bridge self and other, to imagine oneself as someone else, a process made
exceptionally clear in Laura Bellows article in this issue on how pornography
legislation makes of everyone in Indonesia a kind of peeping Tom. The kind of
sentiments that we group under disgust work only insofar as the disgusted individual can imagine contact and bodily communion, being himself in the place of
the other. These sentiments take place in the body both the imaginative sensibility and the reaction of disgust. If we are to understand the imaginative
capacity of human beings, and even to situate it at the center of culture and
culture-making, which increasingly seems to be the trend in anthropology,
we need to consider its dual character in this respect.
Active disgust is simultaneously both transgressive, rooted in boundaries
maintained with moral force, and also transcendent, successful insofar as the
person feeling disgust is caught up in the experience of another. A moment
of transcendence is required to create the moment of transgression that is
often observed in disgust an erasure of the distinction is part and parcel of
the intimate, and imaginative, act of disgust. Transcendence, however, need
not produce truth, goodwill, or harmony, and the imagination of the other is
not the same as being or understanding the other in his terms: disgust is
about rejection even at the moment of imagined transcendence. The dance of
imagination, in which one is both other and rejects the other, captured in
Masqueliers observation in her article in this issue that the response to the
blood stain on the bori practitioner ran from sympathetic revulsion to frank
disgust, does not resolve itself into a simple pattern.
Imagining Self and Other
Let us return to the opening section of this essay. I started by asking the
reader to imagine a group of anthropologists eating tapas and telling stories
of disgusting foods. The story, I hope, was effective because most readers
could imagine themselves there: the food, the exchange of eld stories to multiple purposes, and perhaps the thought of delicious and disgusting foods. If
they felt uneasy, as I did, it was in that tension between sympathy and rejection,
self and other, transcendence and transgression, and the cross-wise concurrence
of different forms of knowing. We use this tension in a variety of ways in anthropology, perhaps most fundamentally in describing anthropology in our introductory undergraduate courses as a eld that explores human difference and
human sameness. So when we ask our undergraduates to imagine practices
that disgust them ritual fellatio, female circumcision, cleansing hands with
urine or rubbing oneself with cow dung we are doing more that trying to
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grab their attention, or to show them that knowledge can conquer prejudice.
We are giving them a primary lesson in the fundamental tension in anthropology, between feeling the shared human experience with others, even as they try
to detect and account for difference. This is not just a tension between the
revolted body and coolly analytical mind (with mind, of course, triumphant);
it is at the heart of our enterprise, and so it is tting that it be taught in the
body, as well as in words and pictures.
There is something disgusting in the idea of everything on earth becoming pasted
over with musings and broodings, or with hair-splitting calculation. The fruitlessness
of ceaseless cerebration as an end in itself, the consequent obstruction of the course of
life, and indeed also of thought must bring a feeling of shallowness that is indubitably
related to disgust. . . . in other such cases of misplaced criticism and intellectual abbiness, these will often be felt to be not only improper and absurd or pernicious, but also
to be disgusting. And so, too, will that type of aimless and over-subtle intellectual
activity, better termed intellectual wantonness, that kind of subjective, irresponsible,
and opulent, over-rened and sometimes bombastic reveling in thought itself and
in its exhibition, which is at heart indifferent to its object: what one might call lascivious intellectualism. Aurel Kolnai
Notes
1. See Connor (1997) for discussion of subjectivity based on non-visual senses. Miller
(1997) discusses various sensory forms of disgust in the west.
2. This is in part the goal of such seminal works as Stollers (1989) The Taste of Ethnographic Things, but Stoller does not do the kind of rich ethnography of the senses
that Geurts (2002) accomplishes, and sometimes seems to subordinate such
things as taste (of a wifes sauce) to social manipulations and signals, instead of
examining the integration of sense and affect. Conversely Geurts study of a sensorium does not explore that sensorium as part of contested and dynamic social life.
3. See, for a start, Howes (2005). This book is part of a series published by Berg
Publishers on sense cultures.
4. Kolnai, in his 1927 essay on disgust, also uses the term habitus.
5. John Leavitt describes the western dichotomy between mind and body, inward
emotion and rational (outward) speech, as a radical distinction between a realm
of expressive freedom characteristic of our minds and one of determinism characteristic of our bodies and the physical world (Leavitt 1996:515). Leavitt notes that
emotion, much as disgust as I discuss it here, is both good and hard to think
(p. 517) precisely because it combines these realms.
6. Douglass idea of the body as a natural symbol still subordinates the body to maps
generated by the mind, and by the mind as mediator of social experience (Douglas
1996 [1973]).
7. It is interesting to think about the relationship between empathy and sympathy, in
this case.
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8. My own work was among Herero; other work I reference here was among Tswana
or Kgalagadi people. While specic ideas about sentiment varies even among or
within Tswana populations, a general sense of the intersubjective nature of sentiment is shared among these groups.
9. I think here of Hollan and Throops reference to Anthony Wallaces observation
that much of social life goes on without intimate knowledge of others motives
and intentions through habit, routine, common expectation, and widely shared
rules of social engagement (Hollan & Throop 2008:3856).
10. Note how William Jankowiak and Thomas Paladino refer to (various forms of) love
as emotional bonds (Jankowiak & Palladino 2008:27, my italics). However, love as a
historically constituted sentimental form is also, as Thomas and Cole argue, part of
struggles over difference and . . . political inclusion (Thomas & Cole 2009:29). Like
disgust, one might say.
11. This picture common in literature on disgust focuses on a particular urban
classs sentiments, and subordinates the sentiment of disgust to class formation
making it a tool of social engineering and ignoring its broader cultural history.
The poor rural peasant, in fact, did live in proximity with other classes in the countryside.
12. Anderson (1991) and Appadurais (1996) work are the main works that have
prompted the use of the term. See Axel (2003) and Sneath et al. (2009) for some
important critiques and suggestions. Strauss (2006) critiques the way the terms imaginary and imagination often refer to generalized, reied, cultural schemas, and
calls for a more person-centered approach. I read imaginary as having somewhat
different reference than imagination, and is indeed schematic, and work here to
challenge thought on the imagination.
13. Wilson (2002) has also called for increased attention to disgust as an imaginative
practice, but tends to consider that imagination in visual and narrative terms
like a lm in the mind, even as he appreciates the complex layering of sense and
experience that make general theories of disgust elusive.

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