Vol. 17 (2021): Purezza

Donne, purezze, disordini e dicotomie attraverso l’antropologia socioculturale

Silvia Lelli
Università degli Studi di Firenze
Published July 26, 2022
  • Women,
  • gender,
  • hierarchization,
  • dichotomies,
  • complex logics,
  • sociocultural anthropology
  • ...More
How to Cite
Lelli, S. (2022). Donne, purezze, disordini e dicotomie attraverso l’antropologia socioculturale. Storia Delle Donne, 17, 85-102. https://doi.org/10.36253/sd-13454


The essay proposes a critical discussion on the use of the purity/impurity dichotomy through a synthetic examination of the anthropological literature that has dealt with the subject, starting with Mary Douglas’ well-known works. The criticism concerns in particular the attribution of these qualities to women, and extends to the risks of logical, cognitive-linguistical, and practical reductionism inherent in the use of categorical dichotomies, starting from the all-encompassing binary macro-splitting nature/culture, widely used in the reference framework of Western naturalist ontology. The essay highlights the links between logical classifications and social hierarchies of sex/gender, that construct and reproduce concrete discriminations. It is argued that the dismissal of reductionist, biased and deterministic logics could lead to deeper understandings of complex, problematic or conflicting realities, facilitating the change towards more just sociocultural situations.


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